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Potential Threats To Israel: Palestinian Terrorist Groups

Despite the progress between Israel and the Palestinians, there are still Palestinian groups engaged in terrorist activities. In February and March 1996, these groups launched a series of bus bombings in Israel, killing more than 60 civilians. These same forces have been responsible for dozens of other attacks, on soldiers and civilians, since the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993 in an effort to destroy the peace process. These groups refuse to make peace with Israel under any circumstances and include:

  • Hamas: Originally a social welfare organization, Hamas has evolved into a militant anti­peace process organization bent on Israel's total destruction and the establishment of a Palestinian State. Hamas has been responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks that have occurred since the signing of the Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993. It has tens of thousands of supporters in the West Bank and Gaza and receives its primary funding from Iran. Hamas also operates an extensive fund­raising network in the United States. Anti­terrorism legislation passed in 1995 was aimed at stopping this activity.

  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ): The PIJ originated among militant Palestinian fundamentalists in the Gaza Strip in the 1970s. It espouses Islamic holy war with the goal of the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic Palestinian State. Because of America's support for Israel, the U.S. is considered an enemy of the PIJ. The PIJ also operates a network in the United States.

  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP): Founded in 1967 by George Habash, this Marxist­Leninist group advocates Pan­Arab revolution, opposes the 1993 Declaration of Principles, and has suspended its membership in the PLO. The PFLP has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks.

  • Palestine Liberation Front (PLF): The PLF is split into pro-PLO, pro-Syrian, and pro­Libyan factions. The pro-PLO Abu Abbas group is based in Iraq, openly supported Iraq in the Gulf War, and has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks, including the 1985 attack on the Achille Lauro cruise ship in which U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer was murdered.

Radical Islamic Ideology

While the great majority of Muslims do not embrace radical Islamic ideology, the groups that do are threats to the U.S., Israel and to moderate Arab regimes. Whatever differences in emphasis may exist among these groups, they share several common features:

· A belief in the use of violence to achieve their political goals.

· A refusal to accept non­Muslims as equal citizens in the Middle East.

· Rejection of Jewish sovereignty on any land in Israel.

· The aim to impose an Islamic form of government throughout the Middle East.

· No distinction between military and civilian targets.

Source: American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)