Iran is strengthening its control over the Islamic Jihad

The Islamic Jihad movement finished the process of internal elections and elected Ziyad Al-Nakhala for a second term as the movement's secretary general. Ziyad Al-Nakhala is the representative of Iran and his victory in the internal elections guarantees the continuation of Iran's control of the movement which is the second largest terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip and which has established a large outpost for itself in the north of the West Bank.

A few days ago, the internal elections in the Islamic Jihad movement ended and Ziyad Al-Nakhala was elected as the movement’s secretary general for a second term of four years.

Al-Nakhala was elected to the position for the first time in internal elections that were held in 2018 and he replaced Dr. Ramadan Shalach who died of a serious illness.

The election of Ziyad Al-Nakhallah, who is very close to the Iranian leadership, symbolizes the continuation of Iran’s control over the Islamic Jihad movement, which is exclusively dependent on it for financial aid and military means.

In contrast to the Hamas movement, the Islamic Jihad movement is fully controlled by Iran and is considered its front branch in the Gaza Strip.

In the past year and a half, Iran has also increased its influence in the territories of Judea and Samaria, through the Islamic Jihad movement, which established armed terrorist groups in northern Samaria with the funding of the Revolutionary Guards, which also took care of smuggling large quantities of weapons and ammunition through Jordan to the members of the new terrorist groups.

Ziyad Al-Nakhala exclusively controls the movement, thanks to Iran’s support the movement has become the second largest terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip that challenges the Hamas movement which is the sovereign of the strip and also Israel.

The internal elections in the Islamic Jihad took place after a short round of fighting by the movement against Israel on the border of the Gaza Strip in August 2022.

The Islamic Jihad conducted the round of fighting against the IDF without the participation of the Hamas movement, which sat on the fence, and during the round of fighting it lost two senior commanders in its military arm, Taysir Al-Jabari, the commander of its northern brigade in the Gaza Strip, and Khaled Mansour, commander The southern division in the Gaza Strip.

In the internal elections this month, 9 members of the movement’s new political bureau were also elected, including Akram El-Ajouri, the head of the movement’s military wing who is responsible for establishing the new terrorist groups in northern Judea and Samaria that Israel has been trying to assassinate for several years.

Who is Ziyad Al-Nakhala?

As mentioned, Ziyad  Al-Nakhala was elected in 2018 in internal elections to the position of Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad movement, a position he held for about a year as an acting representative after Secretary General Abdullah Ramadan Shalach was stricken with cerebral palsy, the movement stubbornly denied rumors that circulated in the Arab world that Abdullah Shalach was poisoned by Israel.

Ziyad Nakhala was born in Gaza in 1953, he graduated from the Gaza Teaching Institute, he was arrested in 1971 for an attack he carried out against IDF soldiers and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1985 he was released from prison as part of a prisoner exchange deal and became a member of the Shura Council of the movement headed by Fathi Shkaki.

During 1985 he played an important role in establishing the military wing of the movement now called Saraya Al-Quds.

Later, he had a significant part in the movement’s activities during the first intifada in 1987 and he was the movement’s representative in the unified leadership of the intifada in the Gaza Strip.

In 1988 he was arrested and deported by Israel together with Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists to the Marj al-Zohour camp in Lebanon because of his part in the intifada, after the assassination of Fatchi Shkaki in Malta in 1995 he settled in Beirut and became close to the new head of the movement Abdullah Ramadan Shalach .

In January 2014, the US included him on the terrorist list because of his support for the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip and his part in the smuggling of weapons to Gaza and set a reward of 5 million dollars for his arrest.

Nakhallah is close to the leader of Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and he had the closest ties with General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Al-Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and he acted according to his instructions. He also has good  ties with his successor, General Ismail Kaani.

He bragged several times in the media about the ability of his organization to turn the Israeli settlements on the border of the Gaza Strip into a place that is not fit to live in.

Since the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip in May 2021 and until today there has been tension between the Islamic Jihad movement and the Hamas movement, these are two movements that are branches of Iran in the Gaza Strip but there is a struggle between them for primacy even though the Hamas organization is larger with much more weapons and money .

The strengthening of the position of the Islamic Jihad movement in the Palestinian street is another step in the process of radicalization of the Palestinian society, the position of the Palestinian Authority has been completely eroded, the public support for political negotiations as a way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has weakened and the Palestinian street adopts the ideas of the resistance of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

The Islamic Jihad claims that the firing of rockets at Israel will continue and that Ziyad Nachala’s strategy is to wear Israel out regularly and destabilize it.

The Islamic Jihad is careful to maintain the principle of uniting the fronts and it launches rockets at Israel every time the IDF kills  senior terrorists in northern Samaria, which is why it  gains great popularity among the younger generation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

Recent Posts

My Twitter