“Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades” is the armed branch of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). Linguistically, in Arabic "Ezz" means support, adherence, or pride, and “Deen” means religion. Al-Qassam can be translated into the breaker or divider. Historically, Ezzedeen Al-Qassam is the name of a pioneer mujahid who was martyred in 1935 near Jenin. Al-Qassam was born in Syria and expelled to Palestine for resisting the French occupation of Syria and Lebanon. In Palestine, he continued his struggle against the British occupation that had promised to make the country a homeland for Jews at the expense of the inhabitants.
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. 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.
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.”
· 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;
Members and organization:
The number of Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades members is known only to the leadership of the Brigades, which adopts the principle of secrecy in organization and recruitment.
The organization of EQB is that of a network of specialized cells operating all over the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The cells work independently of each other under the instructions of the Brigades leadership. Recruits are required to fit the moral requirements of piety, integrity, and steadfastness as well as the physical and educational requirements for the tasks to be assigned to them.
Since EQB is engaged in a relentless, long battle against the occupation army and its security branches, the Brigades have faced numerous and continuous crackdowns by the occupation security and military machines. Hundreds of EQB members have been killed or imprisoned. Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority cracked down on the Brigades from 1995-2000 and arrested hundreds of members and commanders.
More than eight hundred members have been martyred since the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000.
Obstacles & Achievements:
Palestinians are facing many hardships and obstacles in their struggle towards freedom. The occupation security and military machines are the prime example of state-sponsored terrorism against the Palestinian people. Towards achieving their illegal policies, occupation forces use collective-punishment, torture, closures, assassinations and the indiscriminate use of force. In addition, they use pressure, intimidation and blackmail tactics to recruit traitors from among the ranks of Palestinians, to spy for them against resistance fighters. Another obstacle is the need for advanced means of resistance to counter the occupation and defend the people and the land.
EQB has worked very hard over the past few years to counter the occupation’s terrorist policies. And in many cases, EQB registered surprising victories against fortified military targets and against occupation forces attacking Palestinian neighborhoods.
Faced with the military and security machine of a regional superpower, Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades relies on the support of Allah Almighty during the struggle. After that, the Brigades derives strength from the strong belief in the justice of the Palestinian cause, and the firm belief that the will of the victims will defeat the arrogance of the aggressor.
Through sheer determination, dedication, and ingenuity in exploiting occupation weaknesses, the occupation army leadership decided to withdraw from inside the Gaza Strip, and to maintain the occupation through control of borders and airspace and maritime limits. The occupation army and settlers dismantled their illegal settlements and army bases, and took their shattered Zionist dream out of Gaza.
Likewise, Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades is confident that the completion of the liberation of Gaza will be fulfilled; and that the liberation of Palestinian land will be realized.