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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader buried in Damascus

Shallah led the Iranian-backed group for over 20 years [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 June, 2020

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Ramadan Shallah was buried following the afternoon prayers in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus.
The former head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement was laid to rest on Sunday in the Syrian capital Damascus, a day after he died following a long illness, aged 62.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral of Ramadan Shallah, who had been in a coma for more than three years after heart surgery. The group did not say where he died, but he was believed to have been in Lebanon.

Shallah was buried following the afternoon prayers in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus. His funeral was attended by Syria-based Palestinian officials.

Shallah led the Iran-backed group for over 20 years, after its founder, Fathi Shikaki, was shot dead in Malta in a 1995 attack widely attributed to Israel. In 2018, the group named Shallah’s deputy, Ziad al-Nakhalah, as a new leader.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad has offices in Syria and Lebanon, but most of its activities are focused in the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip.

"We pledge to continue the route of resistance until we liberate Palestine with the allies in Syria, Iran and Hezbollah," al-Nakhalah told the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV during the funeral.

Read also: Why is Israel waging war on Islamic Jihad?

Last year, the movement took part in several rounds of heavy fighting with Israel. But in recent months it has remained committed to an unofficial truce brokered by regional mediators between Israel and Hamas, the larger Islamist group ruling Gaza.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad previously has taken part in numerous suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks that killed dozens of Israelis.

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