Al-Quds Brigades (AQB) (Arabic: سرايا القدس, Saraya al-Quds meaning Jerusalem Brigades) is the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamist[1][2] organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ),[3] which is the second largest group in the Gaza Strip, after Hamas.[4] AQB's leader is Ziyad al-Nakhalah, based in Damascus, Syria.[5] The head of AQB in the Gaza Strip was Baha Abu al-Ata[4] until he was killed in November 2019.[6]

Al-Quds Brigades
سرايا القدس
Dates of operation1981 (1981)–present
MotivesThe establishment of a sovereign, Islamic Palestinian state within the geographic borders of pre-1948 Mandatory Palestine
Active regionsGaza Strip, West Bank, Southern Lebanon
IdeologyPalestinian nationalism
Size12,000[citation needed]

AQB's parent organization, PIJ, is devoted to the establishment of an Islamic state, and the settlement of Palestinians in what it considers their rightful homeland within the geographic borders of the pre-1948 British-mandated Palestine. It refuses to participate in political processes or negotiations about a swap of Israeli and Palestinian settlements.[2] The PIJ is majority funded by Iran.[7][8]


Al-Quds Brigades was founded in 1981 by Fathi Shaqaqi and Abd Al Aziz Awda in Gaza,[1] and has been active in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, especially in the town of Jenin. Awda was designated a "Specially Designated Terrorist" by United States on 23 January 1995, and Shiqaqi was assassinated in Malta on 26 October 1995.

The group undertook numerous attacks on Israeli civilians, including suicide bombings; and has suffered extensive operations against its infrastructure carried out by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which resulted in severe losses to the group, and it appeared significantly weakened by 2004.[1][2]

On 1 March 2006, Abu al-Walid al-Dahdouh, an AQB commander, was targeted and killed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City as he drove past the Palestinian finance ministry.[citation needed] On 30 August 2006, the AQB West Bank leader, Hussam Jaradat, was shot and killed by undercover IDF in Jenin on 30 August 2006.[2]

In the Gaza Strip, al-Quds Brigades continued its militant activities,[9] including the indiscriminate firing of al-Quds rocket attacks out of populated civilian areas.[1][10] Al-Quds Brigades promotes the military destruction of Israel, including the indiscriminate firing of rocket, mortar fire and suicide bombings.[1]

In March 2014, over 100 rockets were launched into southern Israel by PIJ and other Islamist groups. On 14 March, Ramadan Shalah, the then leader of PIJ, announced that the attack was coordinated with Hamas.[11]

Baha Abu al-Ata, the head of AQB in the Gaza Strip, was killed in a targeted killing in Gaza City on 12 November 2019, allegedly after having given orders for the launching of rockets into Israel.[12] At the same time, Syrian media reported that another senior PIJ commander, Akram al-Ajouri, survived an airstrike in Damascus, but his son and daughter were killed.[13] The next day, AQB launched more than 220 rockets into southern and central Israel, and on the next day the IDF struck several PIJ targets in the Gaza Strip killing two Palestinians, identified as 38-year-old Khaled Moawad Faraj, AQB's field commander, and 32-year-old Alaa Ashtyawu. Later that day, three more AQB members were killed in an Israeli Air Force airstrike while attempting to launch rockets into Israel.[14] A ceasefire was agreed for 14 November, by which time AQB had launched over 400 rockets into Israel and a total of 36 Palestinians had been killed, including 25 members of PIJ or other factions in the Strip.[15] This time, Hamas made no effort to stand with or assist PIJ.[citation needed]

Jihad Shaker al-Ghannam (secretary of the al-Quds Brigades' Military Council), Khalil Salah al-Bahtini (commander of its Northern Region), and Tariq Mohammed Ezzedine (one of the heads of military action) were killed by an Israeli airstrike in May 2023.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Palestinian Islamic Jihad – al-Quds Brigades". Australian National Security. Australian Attorney-General's Department. Archived from the original on 9 March 2015. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "IDF uncovers massive tunnel near Gaza fence Four terrorists killed in Gaza City clashes". The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Archived from the original on 24 December 2018. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  3. ^ Guitta, Olivier (4 January 2009). "The Next Dangerous Phase of the Gaza War". Middle East Times. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
  4. ^ a b Ahronheim, Anna (3 November 2019). "Who is Abu al-Ata: The man behind rocket fire from Gaza Strip". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  5. ^ IDF: Islamic Jihad 'deliberately' fired rocket that landed offshore
  6. ^ Holmes, Oliver (12 November 2019). "Israel strikes on Islamic Jihad chiefs prompt reprisal rocket attacks". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  7. ^ Mannes, Aaron (2004). Profiles in Terror: The Guide to Middle East Terrorist Organizations. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 201.
  9. ^ Martinez, Michael, and Talal Abu Rahma, and Kareem Khadder (12 March 2014). "Israel fires on 29 'terror sites' after rockets from Gaza hit populated areas". Retrieved 11 July 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Hirshfeld, Rachel (15 November 2012). "Video: Jihadists Firing from Residential Zones, Proud of It". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Islamic Jihad Leader: Israel Attack Coordinated with Hamas; Despite Truce, Threatens 'Beyond' Tel Aviv". The Algemeiner. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Islamic Jihad leader killed in Israeli air strike". CNN. 12 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Islamic Jihad says senior commander targeted in Damascus strike, son killed". The Times of Israel. 12 November 2019.
  15. ^ IDF remains on high alert as rockets threaten cease fire
  16. ^ Israeli strikes on Gaza kill top militants and 10 civilians David Gritten, BBC News, May 9, 2023

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