Explosion at Gaza Hospital: Israeli Military Blames Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Explosion at Gaza Hospital: Israeli Military Blames Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Tensions in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated dramatically with a devastating explosion at a hospital in Gaza City, resulting in a tragic death toll of at least 500 people. Outrage and condemnation swept across multiple Muslim-majority nations following the deadly incident. Israeli and Palestinian officials engaged in a blame game, each accusing the other of responsibility for the catastrophe.

The Israeli military asserted that a "misfired rocket" from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in Gaza was the cause of the explosion. Conversely, the Gaza health ministry, under Hamas control, claimed that Israel had carried out an airstrike on Al Ahli Hospital. In response, the Islamic Jihad group rejected Israel's allegations and accused the country of attempting to shirk responsibility for the "brutal massacre" resulting from the hospital bombing.

Understanding the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Group and Its History

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an armed group based in Gaza, is historically associated with the Hamas militant organization, which has governed the territory since 2007. However, in 2012, Hamas distanced itself from the PIJ. Founded in the 1980s, the Islamic Jihad group is considered the second-largest armed group in Gaza and is committed to the destruction of Israel. Notably, the United States Department of State designated the Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization in 1977.

The Islamic Jihad group was formally established in 1981 by Palestinian activists Fathi Shaqaqi and Shaykh al-Aziz Awda. Originally members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist social movement based in Egypt, they were influenced by the Islamic regime in Iran. Later, in Egypt, they formed an offshoot group known as the Islamic Jihad-Shaqaqi Faction, with the sole aim of annihilating the Israeli state. However, due to the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the group was expelled from Egypt in 1981 and subsequently relocated to Gaza. It was there that Shaqaqi and Awda officially established Palestinian Islamic Jihad, continuing its operations from this region.

The operational areas of the PIJ include Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. Furthermore, the group maintains a presence in Lebanon and Syria, with offices in Tehran. The Islamic Jihad group was involved in numerous suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians and soldiers from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s. Their arsenal includes man-portable air defense systems, mortars, armed unmanned aircraft systems, anti-tank guided missiles, and improvised explosive devices.

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