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 Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Islamic Jihad's Zero-Sum Struggle in Middle East Conflict

  Read here full article in Times OnLine by
Stephen Farrell


“We as Islamic Jihad don’t believe that the step Hamas has taken to democracy and elections will take us to the end of the struggle.

Our ideology, through the way we understand Islam, is that our struggle will only end with the end of the State of Israel.

For us it is an existential struggle, it is either us or them.”
-Islamic Jihad

“There will forever be conflict. It is not going to be solved soon and it won’t be solved with the ballot box,” the leader of Islamic Jihad said, his minders listening for Israeli helicopters and spotter drones overhead.

Abu Ahmad, the leader, said:

“What distinguishes us from Hamas is that we are a revolutionary Islamic movement, and they are attempting Islamic political thinking.

Since 1980 we have raised the flag, the Koran and the gun.

For Hamas jihad is an interim phase. Our whole strategy is jihad.

We never look at the size of our losses.

We never care whether the struggle will be bounded by days, months or years.

We are going to continue fighting whatever it takes until we liberate our lands.

Even if we recognise Israel, even if we pray to Israel, it will not be solved.

Israel and America will not be happy."

Stark, uncompromising and with the utter clarity of the fundamentalist, this was the Islamic Jihad world view spelt out to The Times by its fighters in Gaza just days before yesterday’s bombing.

Older, but smaller than Hamas, Islamic Jihad is rejectionist to the core.

Having denounced Yassir Arafat for signing peace agreements with Israel in the mid-1990s, a decade later it spurned the elections that swept Hamas to power.

Its challenge is how to remain relevant when most Palestinians chose the ballot box in January 2006.

Hence the speed with which it seized upon the Prophet Muhammad cartoon controversy to rouse passions, and its refusal to give up violence now.

Hamas’s dilemma is whether it should curb its former brothers-in-arms or turn a blind eye to their activities and al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades rocket and bombing attacks.

So far it has refused to interfere, fearing that it will damage its street credibility by being seen as “Israel’s policeman”.

However, many Palestinians are increasingly angry at the diehards for continuing to launch home-made rockets into Israel, inviting heavy and sometimes deadly retaliation.

But Islamic Jihad claims that by continuing attacks it has recruited dozens of disillusioned hardliners from Hamas’s military wing.

Does he believe Hamas has been corrupted by power? “Yes.”

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