Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (Arabic:
كتائب الشهيد عز الدين القسام ) (Variant spellings: Ezzedine al-Qassam, Ezzedeen
al-Qassam, Izzedine el Qassam ) are the armed wing of the
Islamist militant group.
The group is named after the Syrian-Palestinian Islamist Imam and agitator,
Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.
The size of the group is not known, but their Web site claims that over 800 of
their members have been killed. One may surmise that there are several thousand
members in the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Israeli Intelligence estimates
that they have about 8,000 members. However, they probably contributed a large number of troops to the
Executive Force formed by the Hamas in 2006, which was instrumental in routing
the substantial forces of the
It is not clear if the numerical estimate considers the Executive forces and Izz
ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades as separate forces. A different Israeli estimate puts
the number of "Hamas fighters" at 20,000 (ref)
. This number is currently quoted by Wikipedia(ref)
as the size of the Al Qassam brigades, but it almost certainly includes Executive force and other groups.
ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades and other groups have been expanding in
following the violent takeover of the Gaza strip by the Hamas, allowing
importation of weapons through a network of tunnels. It is believed that a group
of Iranians are in Gaza training Hamas troops and that hundreds of them have
also managed to go abroad for training.
Foundation of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
According to the Web site of the Ezzedeen al-Qassam group: (alqassam.ps/english/?action=aboutus)
In 1984 Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Maqadema, Sheikh Salah Shehada
and others began to prepare for the establishment of an armed organization
to resist the occupation. Their efforts concentrated on acquiring weapons
for future resistance activity. However, members of the group were arrested
and the weapons were confiscated. At the time, the group didn’t operate
under the name of Hamas or Al-Qassam Brigades.
In 1986 Sheikh Salah Shehada formed a network of resistance cells called
“Al-Mujahidoon Al-Filistinion” (the Palestinian fighters). The network
targeted the Zionist occupation troops and traitors. The network continued
to work till 1989; and their most famous operations were the kidnappings of
two occupation soldiers: Ilan Sadoon and Avi Sasbortas [Sasportas--MEW] . In addition, Hamas
(officially established on December 14, 1987) formed other similar networks,
such as “Abdullah Azzam Brigades” and “Majd,” the latter being a security
branch against traitors.
In the middle of 1991, Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades became known as the armed
branch of Hamas.
Thus, the group was actually formed prior to the
but was only given its name during or after the
Evidently, the operational leader of the group when it was founded was Yahya
Ayash, though the nominal leader was Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of
Hamas. Ayash was killed by Israel in 1995. Muhammad Deif became the head of Izz
ad-Din al-Qassam. Deif has been targeted by Israel several times, but escaped.
He is rumored to be a quadruple amputee, and may be in Egyptian custody.
Mission of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Web site of the group describes their mission as follows:
Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades (EQB) was established in the midst of the
Palestinian Intifada (1987-1994) against the Zionist occupation. Established
at the height of the occupation crackdown against popular and armed
resistance, EQB considers its effort as part of the resistance movement
against the Zionist occupation of Palestinian lands, which has been ongoing
since the British occupation. In light of this understanding, EQB aims:
“To contribute in the effort of liberating Palestine and restoring the
rights of the Palestinian people under the sacred Islamic teachings of the
Holy Quran, the Sunna (traditions) of Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him) and the traditions of Muslims rulers and scholars
noted for their piety and dedication.”
For that to happen, the Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades works to:
Evoke the spirit of Jihad (resistance) amongst
Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims;
Defend Palestinians and their land against the
Zionist occupation and its aggression;
Liberate Palestinians and the land usurped by
the Zionist occupation forces and settlers;
It is clear that the "occupation" that the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam
Brigades want to end is the existence of the state of Israel, in line with the
charter of the Hamas movement as
they point out:
,..Zionist occupation of Palestinian lands, which has been ongoing since
the British occupation.
In their communiques, they refer to Israeli towns such as Sderot as
"settlements" and to Israeli casualties in those towns as "settlers." The Arabic
version of the Izz ad-Din al Qassam Web site is far more outspoken and frank
about their goals than the English version.
Emblem of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
A fighter masked by a kaffiyeh headdress at the center of a circle holds an M-16 rifle
in his right hand and a
in his left. Behind him there is a green banner with the Shahada, the Islamic
declaration of faith, written on it. The
mosque, at the center of the circle, is a common feature of the emblems of
Islamist Palestinian groups (compare with
Islamic Jihad ). The green lettering above is a Quranic verse: “It was not
you who killed them, rather it was Allah who killed them.” Below, in red, is the name
of the group, “Izz ad-Din
al-Qassam Martyr Brigades.”
Attacks by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Martyr Brigades have carried out numerous militant
attacks, including some that are often attributed simply to "Hamas" and some
that may be the work of other groups and are often attributed to them:
- June 25 2006: Complicity in the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad
Shalit, though the operation was claimed to be that of the independent "Jayish
al Islam" group.
- September 9, 2003: Suicide bombing at Tzrifin hitchhiking post:
8 killed, 30 wounded.
- March 27, 2002: Suicide bombing at the Park Hotel in Netanya on
Passover: 30 killed, 140 injured.
- August 9, 2001: Suicide bombing at Sbarro pizzeria in
Jerusalem: 15 killed, 130 injured (also attributed to Islamic Jihad).
- June 1, 2001: Suicide bombing at Dolphinarium nightclub in
Tel-Aviv: 21 killed, 120 injured. (also attributed to Islamic Jihad).
- July 30, 1997:
Two suicide bombers strike in the Mahane
Yehuda open-air market in Jerusalem, claiming at least 12 victims and
wounding at least 150 others.
Islamic Jihad claim responsibility.
March 4, 1996: Dizengoff Center Bombing - A suicide bomb is detonated in Tel Aviv's
Dizengoff Center, killing 13, including children, and wounding at least 130
on the eve of Purim (anniversary of Goldstein massacre).
March 3, 1996: A
suicide bomber blows up a bus on Jerusalem's Jaffa Road, killing 19 people
and leaving at least 9 wounded. The attack takes place on the same No. 18
bus line and almost at the same time as the previous week's attack.
Feb. 25, 1996: Hamas
suicide bomber blows up a No. 18 bus near Jerusalem's central bus station,
killing 26 people and wounding 48 others. Less than an hour later, a second
suicide bomb explodes at a soldiers' hitchhiking station near Ashkelon,
killing one and injuring 31 others. The two attacks are said to be in
retaliation for the slaying in Gaza of Yehiya Ayash.
Oct 19, 1994:
suicide bombing on a Tel Aviv bus kills 22, wounds 40.
July 24, 1994:
suicide bomber blows up a Dan bus in Tel Aviv.
April 13, 1994: Suicide bombing in Hadera killing 9
April 6, 1994: Suicide bombing in Afula killing 7.
April 16, 1993: Suicide attack at Mehola Junction in the West Bank. A car bomb blew up
outside a small restaurant. The suicide bomber and one Israeli were killed.
November 12, 200808
Synonyms and alternate spellings: ; Ezzedine al-Qassam, Izzedine al-Qassam, Izzedine el Qassam