Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second-largest armed terrorist faction in the Gaza Strip, announced at the end of last month that it had a new leader.
Ziad al-Nakhleh, formerly the deputy secretary-general of the Iran-backed Palestinian group, was named as the successor to outgoing leader Ramadan Shalah.
Like Shalah, Nakhleh resides abroad, traveling back and forth between Syria and Iran. He will be PIJ’s third leader. Fathi Shiqaqi, the group’s founding leader, was reportedly killed by Israel in Malta in 1995. After that assassination, Nakhleh was appointed as PIJ’s deputy leader and remained in that position until becoming its head in recent weeks.
He will now remotely lead a powerful and well-armed guerrilla-terrorist army that has its own arsenal of rockets in Gaza, weapons-production centers, Gazan battalions, and terror tunnels. PIJ and Hamas are the only two Gazan factions that possess in their inventories mid-range locally produced rockets of the type that were fired in the middle of the night on October 17 targeting Beersheva, destroying a home. PIJ has denied responsibility for the attack, which could plunge Gaza into a new escalation.