The Sabireen Movement (Arabic: حركة الصابرين نصراً لفلسطين - حِصن, Ḥarakah aṣ-Ṣābirīn Naṣran li-Filasṭīn - Ḥiṣn), meaning the "Movement of the Patient Ones", is a Palestinian armed group that is closely aligned with Iran and Hezbollah. The group was formed in early 2014 after some leaders in Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) converted to Shia Islam and became dissatisfied with PIJ's leadership and their stance, as well as Hamas' stance regarding the Yemeni Civil War and Syrian Civil War, where it supported the Saudi-led intervention and anti-government groups, respectively.
Arabic: حركة الصابرين نصراً لفلسطينParticipant in the Gaza–Israel conflict and Palestinian political violence
Ḥarakah aṣ-Ṣābirīn Naṣran li-Filasṭīn
Flag used by the group
|Active||25 May 2014 – Present|
Ahmed Shariff al-Sarhi
|Headquarters||Shuja'iyya, Gaza Strip|
|Area of operations||Palestinian Territories|
|Originated as||Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine|
Popular Mobilization Forces
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
|Battles and war(s)||Gaza–Israel conflict|
Palestinian political violence
|Designated as a terrorist organisation by|
|United States (2018)|
Inspired by the Fathi Shaqaqi’s works on Islamic Revolution in 1979, the earliest form of the group can be traced back to 2010 as a reformist movement in Gaza calling for a revolution inspired by the Iranian Revolution. While Hamas supported the Syrian rebellion, the Sabireen Movement has praised Iran's involvement as well as Hezbollah's, the group has sent condolences to Hezbollah fighters killed in Syria as well as by Israeli airstrikes against Hezbollah, and has called on the residents of the Yarmouk Camp to fight ISIL's presence in the suburb. The group has also condemned the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen with Salim calling it "an attack on the Yemeni people".
After leaving Palestinian Islamic Jihad and converting to Shiism, Salim has called on his followers to do the same and convert and has also encouraged followers who have already become Shia to proselytize in the Gaza Strip. According to the State Department in September 2015 the group fired rockets into Israeli territory, and in January 2016 Salim announced the group had expanded into the West Bank by establishing cells there, the next month in response to the announcement the Palestinian Authority arrested five men in Bethlehem as part of a cell belonging to the group.
In 2015, Hamas called for the dissolution of the group with Hamas claiming “Sabireen's involvement was against the people of Gaza”, Hamas has also interrogated individuals affiliated with the Sabireen Movement. The group also reportedly receives 10 million dollars a year from Iran, Iran is also believed to have supplied the group with Grad and Fajr Missiles.
In early 2018 the Trump administration designated the group as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organization under an executive order. A Washington DC based think tank asserted that the group's formation could be a bid by Iran to replace Hamas as a proxy with Sabireen given Hamas' stance on Syria and the religious divide between the two.
Many Palestinians have claimed the group “is working on behalf of Iran to spread Shia Islam into Palestine”, along with these allegations the group has held Ashura rituals, Sabireen has also distributed publications on Shiite theology and held seminars that promote the sect. The group's founder and leader Salim has been quoted as saying “the road to liberation of Palestine goes through Karbala.” He has also been quoted as saying that the struggle against Israel requires “a modern Imam Hussein.” Selim denies the group being a Shiite movement however it is believed he denies this claim in order to avoid further friction with Hamas and Fatah which are weary of Iranian expansionism and proselytization on their behalf.
In October 2015, Ahmed Shariff al-Sarhi a high ranking commander in the group was killed by IDF snipers near the Gaza-Israeli border, he had conducted several shootings targeting Israel, when he was killed he was using a Steyr HS .50 anti-material rifle, which is also used by the Iranian armed forces, Iraqi Shiite militias, and Syrian military.
A Palestinian source told Al Arabiya on 27 February 2019 that Hamas forces arrested the Sabireen Movement’s leader, Hisham Salim, and many of the group's fighters, on the orders of Qatar and Egypt.
Upon creation, the movement has not introduced itself as a Shiite movement. Its secretary general says it does not represent a certain sect, stressing that sectarianism only serves the enemies' best interests. He also denies that the movement only consists of Shiites and does not accept Sunni members.
In January 2016, Hisham Salim, founder of the Harakat al-Sabireen, told the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency that the group, like Hezbollah, is directly funded by the Iranian government, but stressed that his group was non-sectarian, non-religious and certainly not a "Shiite movement."
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