Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- Abu Ahmed, the spokesman for the al-Quds Brigade, the Islamic Jihad movement’s military wing, said that the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip would not be drawn by the recent Israeli provocation. He said that “the factions are now working according to a new tactic that is based upon not allowing the enemy to set the time and place of the battle, but controlling the initiative ourselves.”
Abu Ahmed believes that Israel wants to provoke the Palestinian factions to respond to its provocations in order to use this as a pretext to launch a new military campaign against the Gaza Strip. Abu Ahmed told Asharq Al-Awsat that the resistance will respond to such aggression in the manner that it sees fit, with regards to time and place.
Abu Ahmed said that it was not out of the question that Israel wanted to launch a new aggression against the Gaza Strip, but he believes that “the circumstances surrounding the enemy, especially some of the agreements that they want in order to halt settlement activity and lift the blockade [on the Gaza Strip], as well as the legal prosecutions being made against some [Israeli] military commanders and politicians, may make it difficult for similar aggressions like those that took place in December last year to occur. This [aggression] will be limited to assassination operations and [military] incursions, such as those that we are currently seeing.”
Abu Ahmed confirmed that the Islamic Jihad organization is ready to face any new aggression, and he said that his organization had learnt much from the previous war. He said that the al-Quds Brigade participation in the fighting was acceptable in accordance to the movement’s capabilities and the difficult and violence of the conflict. He also acknowledged that the movement’s military capabilities are modest, saying “We are not a regular army, and we do not have a lot of weaponry, but we have the strength and drive that we derive from our strong faith in God.
Abu Ahmed described the period of calm in Gaza since the end of the war early last year, as being a result of “an internal consensus amongst the resistance factions to give the resistance a chance to put itself in order, and restore its military capabilities that were damaged in some manner during the [Israeli] aggressions, and also to give a chance for our people to improve their situation and return to their normal lives, something which was not possible during the war.”
He added “This is not shameful, a defeat, or as a result of fear [of more Israeli aggression]. On the contrary, we cannot continue the fighting without a rest period, and this is something called for by the open battle between us and the enemy, but this does not deny or revoke the right of the resistance to counter any aggression or incursion or any hostile activity against our people in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.”
Abu Ahmed admitted that getting weapons into the Gaza Strip has become a difficult proposition, accusing some Arabs countries – who he refused to specify – and Israel, of cooperating to prevent the entry of weapons into the Gaza Strip. Abu Ahmed refused to disclose the state of the Islamic Jihad rocket stockpiles; however he did say that money and weapons reach the movement through “loyal sons of the nation.”
Abu Ahmed confirmed that the majority of aid coming to the Islamic Jihad movement comes from individuals and organizations abroad, rather than states. He also said that Iran is the country that most aids the Islamic Jihad movement, saying “Our relationship with Iran is a relationship built upon mutual respect, like the rest of our relations with the resistance and opposition forces in all parts of the globe. Iran is the country that most supports the resistance in every place, not just Palestine. This is an honorable position, one that can be attested to by those near and far and that is why we respect and appreciate Iran.”
Abu Ahmed described the Iranian support as being “first class financial support and it is directed specifically towards the families of martyrs, prisoners, and the injured and for charity projects.”
Abu Ahmed refused to answer a question about whether Hamas gets more aid from Iran [than the Islamic Jihad movement], saying “I do not know [the answer] to this, I do not know how much Iran aids Hamas or other resistance forces.”
He described the relationship between Islamic Jihad and Hamas as being very good, and although he confirmed that the Al-Quds Brigade was previously banned from firing rockets [into Israel] he denied that this was on the orders of a senior Hamas leader.
Abu Ahmed confirmed that his movement disagreed with Hamas over the elections and the Hamas coup in Gaza, saying “we were against participating in the legislative elections, Hamas participated. We were against the internal division, saying that internal problems should be resolved solely via dialogue and peaceful means. Hamas had a different view on this subject.”
Despite this Abu Ahmed reaffirmed that the relationship between Islamic Jihad and Hamas was good. He also described the relationship between his movement and the Fatah movement and the Salafist organizations as also being good. He said “Our relationship with Fatah is very good, as is our relationship with all Palestinian factions. Our closeness to any party is dependent upon their distance from the enemy, and our distance to any party is dependant upon their closeness to the enemy, and this is how we assess our relationship [with other parties]. Fatah, originally a resistance organization, has a long history [of resistance], and nobody can deny this history or erase it from the memory.”
As for the relationship with Salafist movements, Abu Ahmed said “Our relationship is good with all groups whose primary objective is to resist the occupation and look after the interests of our people, and protect them, for we – thank God – do not antagonize anybody in the Palestinian area, and we do not have any ambition to govern or rule.”