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 Palestinian Islamic Jihad

(Also known as: al‑Quds Brigades; Harakat al‑Jihad al‑Islami fi Filistin; Islamic Jihad;
Islamic Jihad Palestine; Islamic Jihad–Palestine Faction and Islamic Holy War)

This statement is based on publicly available information about Palestinian Islamic Jihad. To the Australian Government’s knowledge, these details are accurate and reliable and have been corroborated by classified information. 

Basis for listing a terrorist organisation

Division 102 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 provides that for an organisation to be listed as a terrorist organisation, the Attorney‑General must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the organisation:

  • is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act; or
  • advocates the doing of a terrorist act.

Details of the organisation

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a Sunni Islamist organisation committed to the destruction of the state of Israel. In 1981, Dr Fathi abd al‑Aziz Shaqaqi and Shayk Abd al‑Aziz Awda founded the group in Gaza. Both were originally members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Believing the Muslim Brotherhood to be too moderate, the two created PIJ as a radical militant alternative focused on the liberation of Palestine.

PIJ comprises a leadership council and a military wing called the al‑Quds Brigades, which claims responsibility for PIJ attacks. Statements are regularly disseminated via the al‑Quds Brigades‑run website or PIJ‑affiliated media outlets. Because PIJ focuses almost exclusively on militant activities that further its objectives, the organisation as a whole and the al‑Quds Brigades are essentially indistinguishable.

Despite being a Sunni group, Iran’s Islamic Revolution inspired the development of PIJ. PIJ remains ideologically supportive of, and maintains close ties with, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Hizballah. PIJ’s main source of funding is Iran, and the group has also received donations from Syria and the Palestinian community.


PIJ’s goal is the establishment of a sovereign Islamic state within the geographic borders of the pre‑1948 British‑mandated Palestine. It promotes the military destruction of Israel as the only viable means to attain this goal.

Leadership and membership

The current leader of PIJ is Dr Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, who took over from Fathi abd al‑Aziz Shaqaqi in 1995 after the latter’s death. Shallah is based in Damascus, from where he and his leadership council coordinate fundraising and procurement for the al‑Quds Brigades in Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank. The General Bureau consists of eight persons and forms PIJ’s leadership council.

PIJ recruits the majority of its members from Palestinian communities in Gaza and the West Bank. It is a secretive organisation and the exact size of its membership is unknown. Although PIJ membership, including its political leadership in Damascus and militants in the Palestinian Territories, is likely less than 1000 members, PIJ has previously claimed membership in the thousands.

Terrorist activity of the organisation

Directly or indirectly engaged in the doing of terrorist acts 

PIJ claimed responsibility for more than 30 suicide bombings between 1987 and 2006. Since then, the majority of its attacks have featured indiscriminate indirect fire, seeking to maximise casualties.  As an example, in November 2012 PIJ launched multiple rocket and mortar attacks into Israel from Gaza. 

PIJ increased the intensity of its rocket and mortar fire from Gaza for the duration of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in July/August 2014. Although PIJ suffered losses during this conflict, it still retains the capability to attack Israel, primarily through indiscriminate rocket fire. PIJ also seeks to renew its asymmetric warfare capabilities, and has been linked to rudimentary attacks using basic weapons against Israeli targets. As an example, on 10 November 2014 a Palestinian PIJ member drove his car into a group of civilians waiting at a bus stop in the Gush Etzion settlement south of Jerusalem. The man then exited the vehicle, killing one and wounding two others with a knife.

Directly or indirectly preparing and/or planning terrorist acts

PIJ participates in joint training exercises with Hamas’s Izz al‑Din al‑Qassam Brigades—a proscribed terrorist organisation—to enhance its capability and has made efforts to increase ties with the group. Similar to Hamas’s Brigades, PIJ extensively uses tunnel networks to move materiel and launch attacks.

Advocating the doing of a terrorist attack

PIJ has encouraged Palestinians to use all available means to attack Israel, particularly around Jerusalem. PIJ has also praised, and called on its supporters to conduct attacks against Israel. Supporters are encouraged to consider the type of attacks that most affect Israel, including highlighting the success of martyrdom operations and the benefit of kidnapping to secure hostages that can be exchanged for imprisoned PIJ members. PIJ has also promoted the damaging psychological effect that simple tactics, including arson and knife attacks, have on Israelis.

PIJ praised the 18 November 2014 attack in which two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers attacked the Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in West Jerusalem. PIJ also praised Hizballah’s 28 January 2015 anti‑tank missile attack on an Israeli military convoy on the Israel–Lebanon border, stating that PIJ was ready to join any offensive against Israel.


On the basis of the above information, ASIO assesses that PIJ continues to directly and/or indirectly engage in, preparing, planning, assisting in, fostering or advocating the doing of terrorist acts. This assessment is corroborated by information provided by reliable and credible intelligence sources. In the course of pursuing its objectives, PIJ is known to have committed or threatened actions that:

  • cause serious damage to property, or the death of persons or endanger a person’s life;
  • are intended to have those affects;
  • are done with the intention of advancing PIJ’s political, religious or ideological causes;
  • are done with the intention of coercing or influencing by intimidation the government of a foreign country; and
  • are done with the intention of intimidating the public and sections of the public.

Other relevant information

Level of participation in peace negotiations

PIJ refuses to participate in the political process and rejects the possibility of a negotiated settlement to the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict.

Other designations

The governments of Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States proscribe PIJ as a terrorist organisation.

The European Union lists PIJ for the purposes of its anti‑terrorism financing measures. PIJ is also included in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Consolidated List maintained under the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945, which implements Australia’s obligations under United Nations Council Resolution 1373 in relation to countering the financing of terrorism.