Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in front of Al Am’ari Refugee Camp entrance, Rammal/ Jerusalem main road.At 8th day of Israel Operations in Gaza 05/17/2021
“We have been absent for a long time, but now we announce the reactivation of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and we warn the Israeli occupation that it will prove a sinister death.” This group reported in Ramallah, West Bank.
Am’ari camp, located east of Ramallah city in al-Bireh municipality, is one of the smallest camps in the West Bank. Before the first intifada, many refugees living in Am’ari camp were able to move to surrounding villages and cities. However, the construction of the West Bank Barrier, expansion of Ramallah and rising property prices has meant that this has become prohibitively expensive for most residents.
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is a secular network of Palestinian militias aligned with Fatah that engages in sporadic violence against Israel.
The Palestinian group al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade evolved in recent years from a Fatah linked coalition of militias seeking an end to Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip into a more radical organization. Emerging around the time of what Palestinians call the “Second Intifada” in 2000, the brigade at first targeted Israeli settlers and military outposts. But its decision to join Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and target civilians in Israeli cities in 2002 prompted the U.S. State Department to list the brigade as a terrorist organization and led Washington to abandon efforts to deal with the Palestinian president, the late Yasir Arafat.
What is the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade?
The brigade is a network of West Bank militias affiliated with former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat’s Fatah faction and has been one of the driving forces behind the what Palestinians call the “Second” or “Al-Aqsa Intifada” (uprising). While the group initially vowed to target only Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in early 2002 it joined Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in a spree of attacks against civilians in Israeli cities. In March 2002, after a deadly al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade suicide bombing in Jerusalem, the State Department added the group to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations, and ceased regarding Arafat as a viable partner in peace negotiations.
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade consists of localized, autonomous units that mostly act independently of each other, united under a common alliance to Fatah, according to the State Department. Due to its decentralized power structure, U.S. intelligence officials often have difficulty identifying leaders of the organization.
In 2004 the brigade engaged in a ceasefire with Israel but resumed attacks when Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006, according to the State Department. The 2006 Country Report says that the brigade continues intra-Palestinian violence and adds to the “overall chaotic security environment.” The brigade operates primarily in the West Bank but have also carried out attacks in the Gaza strip and Israel.