Gaza-Based Factions Claim to Have Presence in the West Bank

Over the last several weeks, Gaza-based factions Mujahideen Brigades and the Popular Resistance Movement (PRM) have issued statements claiming they have established a presence in the West Bank amid a surge in shooting attacks against Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops and Israeli citizens.

On Sep. 14, Mujahideen Brigades announced its presence in the West Bank and claimed several attacks on IDF sites at Mount Gerizim, the Deir Sharaf and the Hawara checkpoint.

“We announce our adoption of several operations carried out by a group of heroes from the Mujahideen Brigades in Nablus,” the statement said.

The claim was supported by documentation purportedly showing a Mujahideen Brigades fighter shooting at the Hawara checkpoint in Nablus. However, the video was heavily censored and did not show the checkpoint coming under fire.

In the following weeks, the organization made five more claims of attacks against Israeli military sites in the West Bank. Evidence supporting their claims was also published, but much like the Sep. 14 video, they did not clearly demonstrate IDF positions being attacked.

On Oct. 8, the PRM – an offshoot of the Popular Resistance Committees – announced it established a presence and carried out attacks in the West Bank in response to IDF operations.

“We announce, with God’s blessing and success, the launch of the first jihadi actions of the al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades [PRM] in the occupied West Bank from the city of Jenin, which today repelled the Zionist aggression with valor of its brave sons and men who did not accept submissiveness or humiliation and succumb to the enemy and its dictates,” the statement said.

The PRM claimed the Brigades of Yusef al-Quqa (named after former PRM leader) targeted the al-Jalama checkpoint in the northern West Bank with an IED on Oct. 7. Video evidence was provided to support the claim. However, based off the documentation of the alleged targeting, it wasn’t clear an IED was used against an Israeli military site.

On Oct. 11, the organization published a statement and video evidence claiming it fired at IDF soldiers and a civilian bus in the Jenin area, respectively.

While both organizations have provided documentation supporting their claims, it remains unclear if they are genuinely operating in the West Bank like other Gaza-based militant groups. Though there is some evidence of previous operational activity by Mujahideen Brigades in Israel.

On May 30, the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) arrested Shehadeh Abu al-Qian for “promoting terrorist activity and gathering intelligence in Israeli territory” on behalf of Mujahideen Brigades. The ISA alleged that after al-Qian joined the IDF he began to collect intelligence and perform other activities on behalf of the Gaza-based organization.

At the present time, the organizations’ claims of establishment in the West Bank is likely to be comprised of a few individuals receiving instructions from Gaza to carry out minor military operations in the West Bank. Though the claimed attacks are likely exaggerated or outright fabricated with the aim of promoting military operations against Israel.

Joe Truzman is a senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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