Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades

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al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades
كتائب شهداء الأقصى‎
Kataeb Shuhada Al-Aqsa
LeaderYasser Arafat (former)
Part ofFatah
AlliesAl-Qassam Brigades, Al-Quds Brigades
Battles and war(s)Second Intifada, 2023 Israel–Hamas war

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades Arabic: كتائب شهداء الأقصى, romanized: Kataeb Shuhada Al-Aqsa)[1][2][3][4][5][6] is an armed Palestinian group in the West Bank, formed in 2000. Several countries (Israel, EU, US, Canada, New Zealand, and Japan) class the group as a terrorist organisation.[7]

Historical overview[change | change source]

Originated in the West Bank, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades take their name from the al-Aqsa Mosque, situated in the Muslim holy site of Jerusalem, the Noble Sanctuary, also claimed by Jews as the Temple Mount.

After the Oslo Accords with Israel in 1993, the Fatah organization came to be the main authority of Palestine and incorporated the Palestinian Authority. Based in the West Bank and in Gaza Strip, Fatah and its president, Yasser Arafat, decided to switch their armed militias into official security forces.[8] Among the various armed wings, a group of young Fatah members formed the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in the 2000, during the Second Intifada.[9]

Support and Leadership[change | change source]

The corruption and inaction of the Fatah and PA coalition created the opportunity for the Brigades to regain the confidence of the Palestinian population.

Palestinians, indeed, shifted their support towards a more radical and violent type of action because of the difficult living conditions and the lack of trust towards the diplomatic process. Indeed, right after the al-Aqsa intifada in 2000, less than the 17% of the population was hopeful for the end of the diplomatic process and the cruelty.[10]

Although, the Brigades did not seek a separation from the Fatah movement, their political violence was threatening the position of Arafat. His popularity decreased, indeed, from 70% in autumn 2001 to 57% at the end of the same year.[10]

Arafat's involvement with the Brigades is controversial: while al-Aqsa Brigades stated their affiliation to him and the Fatah movement, the Brigades also claimed a relative independence.[11] As a member of the AMB stated in an interview:

“Fatah frames us, but nevertheless a certain independence exists concerning the decisions to take.”[12]

Nonetheless, it is known that Arafat during the negotiations used to encourage attacks as a leverage on the Western countries.[10] The BBC discovered in 2003 that the PA was consistently supporting al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades with numbers such as 50,000 US dollars monthly to the group.[13]

In 2001, the al-Aqsa cofounder, Yasser Badawi, was assassinated; consequently, the Brigades took revenge for his death by attacking Israeli civilians.[9] A series of violent attacks started until Arafat’s death in November 2004. From the moment of Arafat's death, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades furtherly detached from the movement and supported Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential elections of the Palestinian Authority. But when he displayed his intentions of limiting the power of the paramilitaries and armed wings, he lost the support of the Brigades.[13] As a consequence, the group divided: some joined the Palestinian Authority, while only some cells have been recorded as still active around 2017.[14]

Military attacks[change | change source]

Most of the military attacks attributed to the AMB in their early years were attacks on Israeli settlers in the West Bank, although the group shifted to targets inside of Israeli borders since 2002.[15] Targeting both Israelis and Palestinians that collaborate with the Israeli security forces. Nonetheless, there have also been attacks on individuals that belonged to the Fatah movement in the West Bank, due to clashes between them.[16]

Despite the fact they are not dependent on any other superior Palestinian entity, they have cooperated with different Palestinian military groups. Within the Gaza Strip, they have carried out attacks with the help of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas, as well as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.[15] In the case of the West Bank, they have collaborated with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia movement.[15]

During the Second Intifada, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have killed over 70 people, claiming responsibility for some of the conflict's most significant attacks.[17]

Notable Attacks[change | change source]

  • In January of 2002, a gunman entered a Bat-Mitzvah celebration in Hadera, killing six and harming over 33 Israelis.[18]
  • In March 2002, 11 Israelis are killed during the Yeshivat Beit Yisrael massacre that took place in a café in Jerusalem.[15]
  • In March of 2002, in the West Bank, a sniper killed two officers, five soldiers and three Israeli settlers at an Israeli army checkpoint.[18]
  • In January 2003, a suicide bombing took place in a bus station in Tel-Aviv, killing 22 civilians and 100 injured. This attack was considered one of the bloodiest attacks of the Second Intifada.[19]
  • In March of 2004, a suicide bomb attack at an Israeli army checkpoint in Ashdod cause the death of 10 people. The Islamic group Hamas claimed that they had cooperated with the AMB in the attack.[15]
  • In January of 2008, all three military groups (the AMB, Hamas, and the Palestine Islamic Jihad) launched several rockets to Israeli soil, wounding 10 Israeli civilians. The Israeli government retaliated this attack by blocking the Gaza Strip.[15]
  • In November 2012, more than 500 rockets were fired into Israel during the IDF operations in the Strip of Gaza.[18]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Prisoner Stories: Mohammad Hussnee Zeidan". The Electronic Intifada. 16 September 2004. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Murphy, Maureen Clare (17 September 2004). "Prisoner Stories: Sleiman Sari al Sa'di's sons". The Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Palestinian Shahid: Model 21st Century Islamic Terrorist". Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Network, Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy. "Palestine in 2022: A Year of Resistance". Al-Shabaka. Retrieved 30 January 2024. {{cite web}}: |first1= has generic name (help)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Network, Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy. "From Jenin to Gaza to Nablus: Palestinian Resistance Under Attack". Al-Shabaka. Retrieved 30 January 2024. {{cite news}}: |first1= has generic name (help)
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Reforming the Palestinian Security Sector-Problems & Prospects". 9 August 2004. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  7. "Country Report on Terrorism". U.S. Department of State Archive.
  8. Cheong, Damien D. (2012). "Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades: Armed Struggle as a Response to a Crisis of Legitimacy". Melbourne Journal of Politics. 35: 39.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Martin, Gus; Pearson, Erica (2011). The Sage Engyclopedia of Terrorism. Los Angeles, USA: Sage Publications. pp. 24. ISBN 9781412980166.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Bloom, Mia M. (2004). "Palestinian Suicide Bombing: Public Support, Market Share, and Outbidding". Political Science Quarterly. 119 (1): 69, 70, 72. doi:10.2307/20202305. JSTOR 20202305.
  11. "Erased In A Moment: Suicide Bombing Attacks Against Israeli Civilians". Human Rights Watch. 1 November 2002. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  12. Avgeropoulos, Yorgos (2008). "Hate in the Holy Land". Alexander Street. Surrey, England: Journeyman Pictures. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Tucker, Spencer C.; Zuhur, Sherifa (2019). Middle East Conflicts From Ancient Egypt to the 21st Century: an Encyclopedia and Document Collection. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. pp. 46–47. ISBN 9781440853531.
  14. DiPrizio, Robert C.; Zuhur, Sherifa (2020). Conflict in the Holy Land: From Ancient Times to the Arab-Israeli Conflicts. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 5. ISBN 9781440867477.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Fletcher, Holly (November 2005). "Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade". Council on Foreign Relations.
  16. "Palestinians execute woman 'collaborator'". BBC. August 2002. Archived from the original on 2011-11-12. Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  17. Exposito Michele K. "The al-Aqsa Intifada: Military Operations, Suicide Attacks, Assassinations, and Losses in the First Four Years." Journal of Palestine Studies, 34. no 2 (2005): 106-108.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 "National Counterterrorism Center | FTOs".
  19. Johnstron, Robert (December 2017). "Worst Terrorist Attacks in Israel". Johnston's Archive.