Islamic Jihad Gains New Traction in Gaza

(New York Times) Jodi Rudoren - Islamic Jihad and its Al-Quds Brigades are having something of a renaissance. Last month the group fired a barrage of 100 rockets toward Israel in less than an hour. Polls show that support for Islamic Jihad among residents of Gaza remains far below that of the leading political factions but has seen an uptick as the group has lately built health clinics, opened schools, and expanded its family-mediation services, backed by Iranian funds. Though not a signatory to the reconciliation pact, Islamic Jihad would join Hamas as part of the formal Palestinian leadership if the deal were implemented. There is scant ideological space between the two movements. Egypt recently allowed three of the group's senior leaders to leave Gaza to meet the group's chief in Beirut - something no Hamas official had been allowed to do since last summer's military-backed ouster of President Morsi of Egypt. A senior IDF intelligence official said Islamic Jihad's Gaza force numbered 4,000, compared with 10,000 in Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. Together, he said, the two groups have manufactured 200 rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv, ten times the number they possessed two years ago.

2014-05-05 00:00:00

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