A statement published by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the West Bank officially announced the formation of Katibat Tubas after armed clashes took place in Tubas against Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) troops on Sunday.
“We in the Tubas Brigade, announce the launch of our blessed jihad work in this clash that our mujahideen fought with the occupation forces, which led to the direct injury and damage of the occupation’s mechanisms, to confirm that we are continuing our jihad and resistance and engaging our enemy until victory and liberation,” the statement said.
The purported establishment of Katibat Tubas signals an ongoing pattern of escalation by PIJ in the West Bank. The nascent organization will be the fourth PIJ subunit to be established in the West Bank following Katibat Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarm.
FDD’s Long War Journal has been tracking the uptick in Palestinian militant activity and the establishment of the formations in West Bank cities since last year. [See FDD’s Long War Journal: Analysis: Understanding the Militant Groups Behind the Violence in the West Bank.]
Pro-Resistance Axis media in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon also reported PIJ’s announcement.
The creation of the PIJ formations in various cities in the West Bank are likely in response to several events that occurred in 2021. The cancellation of the Palestinian elections last year, the May 2021 Gaza-Israel war, and the increase in IDF operations in the West Bank all contributed to the apparent change in strategy by West Bank Palestinian militant groups.
Ultimately, it was likely the killing of a significant number of militants last year and into this year that motivated terrorist organizations in the West Bank to reorganize and establish a joint operations room. Groups such as Katibat Jenin, Hizam al-Nar (Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – Belt of Fire) and Katibat Nablus were formed and resulted in a marked increase in clashes with IDF troops. Though, it is unclear if the initiative to form these umbrella groups was directed from a local level or abroad (Gaza, Lebanon, Turkey).
While it is too early to say if Katibat Tubas will be as troublesome for the IDF as its counterparts in Jenin and Nablus, the announcement should be taken seriously as it signals the continued growth of radical Islamist Palestinian groups, primarily PIJ, in the West Bank.
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