The Israeli Defence Force was founded May 14, 1948 with the establishment of the state of Israel "to protect the inhabitants of Israel and to combat all forms of terrorism which threaten the daily life". The IDF succeeded the Haganah (in particular, its operational branch, the Palmach) as the permanent military of the Jewish state. It was also joined by former elements of the Jewish Brigade that fought under the British flag during World War II. After the establishment of the IDF the two Jewish underground organizations the Etzel and Lehi joined with the IDF in a loose confederation but were allowed to operate independently in some sectors until the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, after which these two organizations were disbanded, and their members integrated into the IDF. The modern IDF came into existence during the period from 1949 to 1956 by experience gained through regional conflicts with their Arab neighbors.
From 1956 to 1966, the IDF faced less conflict and used this time to purchase new equipment and change from an upstart army to a professional fighting force. As well, this period saw Israel develop its nuclear capability.
Israel's military technology is most famous for its guns, armored fighting vehicles (tanks, tank-converted APCs, armoured bulldozers, etc.) and rocketry (missiles and rockets). Israel also designs and in some cases it has manufactured aircrafts and naval systems (patrol and missile ships). Much of the IDF's electronic systems (intelligence, communication, command and control, navigation etc.) are Israeli-developed, including many systems installed on foreign platforms. So are many of its precision-guided munitions.
Israel and the United States are the only countries in the world with an anti-ballistic missile defense system, though an operational system is in place protecting the Moscow area. Israel is also working with the U.S. on development of a tactical high energy laser system against medium range rockets (called Nautilus THEL).
Israel has the independent capability of launching reconnaissance satellites into orbit (a capability which only Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the People's Republic of China, India and Japan hold).
Israel is also said to have developed an indigenous nuclear capability, although no official details or acknowledgements have ever been publicized. On the issue of this nuclear weapons program, Israel chooses to follow a policy of deliberate ambiguity.
It is generally believed that Israel has nuclear weapons. The first two nuclear bombs were probably operational before the Six-Day War and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol ordered them armed in Israel's first nuclear alert during that war.
The current size and composition of Israel's nuclear stockpile is uncertain, and is the subject of various estimates and reports. Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimates that Israel probably has 100-200 nuclear warheads, which can be delivered by airplanes or ballistic missiles (Lance, Jericho or Jericho II missiles). The Jericho II is reported to have a range between 1,500 and 4,000 km, meaning that it can target sites as far away as central Russia, Iran and Libya.
It has also been speculated that the Israeli Navy's three Dolphin-,class submarines may be capable of carrying nuclear-armed specially-modified Popeye Turbo cruise missiles. These missiles are purported to have a 1,500 km range and are supposedly fired out of what are suspected to be unusually-sized additional torpedo tubes that were allegedly installed on the Dolphin submarine and are otherwise larger than what is required to accommodate any currently known western torpedo design in existence. A test of such a missile is alleged to have taken place off the coast of Sri Lanka in May 2000. Nevertheless, some military analysts have labeled such rumors to be highly unlikely and impossible given the logistics of the submarines. Furthermore, there is no factual basis for the origins of the alleged test firing.
The Israeli government has neither acknowledged nor denied that it possesses nuclear weapons, an official policy referred to as "ambiguity".
FATAH and The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO):
The movement, which espoused a Palestinian nationalist ideology in which Palestine would be liberated by the actions of Palestinians, was founded in 1958 or 1959 by members of the Palestinian diaspora - principally professionals working in the Gulf States who had been refugees in Gaza and had gone on to study in Cairo. The most notable of these was Yasser Arafat, who was head of the Palestinian student movement in Cairo from 1952 to 1956. Fatah became the dominant force in Palestinian politics after the 1967 Six-Day War dealt the coup de grâce to the Arab nationalism that had inspired George Habash's Arab Nationalist Movement.
In the 1960s and the 1970s, Fatah provided training to a wide range of European, Middle Eastern, Asian, and African militant and insurgent groups, and carried out numerous attacks against Israeli targets in Western Europe and the Middle East during the 1970s.
When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the faction was dispersed to several Middle Eastern countries with the help of US and other Western governments: Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq and others. In the period 1982-1993, Fatah's leadership resided in Tunisia.
Until his death, Arafat was the head of the Palestinian Authority. Farouk Kaddoumi is the current Fatah chairman, elected to the post soon after Arafat's death in 2004.
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO):
The PLO has a nominal legislative body, the Palestinian National Council (PNC), but most actual political power and decisions are controlled by the PLO Executive Committee, made up of 15 people elected by the PNC. The PLO incorporates a range of generally secular ideologies of different Palestinian movements committed to the struggle for Palestinian independence and liberation, hence the name of the organization. The Palestine Liberation Organization is considered the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and holds a permanent observer seat in the United Nations General Assembly.
Founded in 1987, Hamas was the Gaza Strip branch of the Pan-Arab (Sunni) Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement, which had been founded in Egypt. Hamas is opposed to the existence of Israel and has denounced the 1993 Oslo Accords, the foundation of the failed peace process, as a "betrayal of God's will." However, in 2004, Hamas offered a 10-year truce, or hudna, in exchange for several conditions including a complete withdrawal from the occupied territories.
Hamas does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state and refers to it as the "Zionist entity," a common hostile term in Arab political rhetoric, and calls for an end to the state of Israel in its charter. During the election campaign, Hamas did not mention its call for the destruction of Israel in its electoral manifesto.
The 1988 Hamas Covenant states that the organization's goal is to "raise the banner of God over every inch of Palestine," in order to establish an Islamic Republic.
The thirty-six articles of the Covenant detail the movement's Islamist beliefs regarding the primacy of Islam in all aspects of life. The Covenant identifies Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and considers its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors." Hamas describes resisting and quelling the enemy as the individual duty of every Muslim and prescribes revolutionary roles for all members of society; including men and women, professionals, scientists and students.
The slogan of Hamas is "God is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Qur'an its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of God is the loftiest of its wishes." Hamas states that its objective is to support the oppressed and wronged and "to bring about justice and defeat injustice, in word and deed."
Some of Hamas's views on Political and Economic issues:
Article 6: "The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned..."
Article 11: "The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up."
Article 13: "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with."
Article 16 (education): It is necessary to follow Islamic orientation in educating the Islamic generations in our region by teaching the religious duties, comprehensive study of the Koran, the study of the Prophet's Sunna (his sayings and doings), and learning about Islamic history and heritage from their authentic sources. This should be done by specialised and learned people, using a curriculum that would healthily form the thoughts and faith of the Moslem student. Side by side with this, a comprehensive study of the enemy, his human and financial capabilities, learning about his points of weakness and strength, and getting to know the forces supporting and helping him, should also be included. Also, it is important to be acquainted with the current events, to follow what is new and to study the analysis and commentaries made of these events. Planning for the present and future, studying every trend appearing, is a must so that the fighting Moslem would live knowing his aim, objective and his way in the midst of what is going on around him.
Article 18 (on women): Woman in the home of the fighting family, whether she is a mother or a sister, plays the most important role in looking after the family, rearing the children and imbuing them with moral values and thoughts derived from Islam. She has to teach them to perform the religious duties in preparation for the role of fighting awaiting them. That is why it is necessary to pay great attention to schools and the curriculum followed in educating Moslem girls, so that they would grow up to be good mothers, aware of their role in the battle for liberation. She has to be of sufficient knowledge and understanding where the performance of housekeeping matters are concerned, because economy and avoidance of waste of the family budget, is one of the requirements for the ability to continue moving forward in the difficult conditions surrounding us. She should put before her eyes the fact that the money available to her is just like blood which should never flow except through the veins so that both children and grown-ups could continue to live.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine:
The PFLP in Palestine was founded in 1968 as a Syrian-backed splinter group from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). It was - and still is - headed by Secretary-General Ahmed Jibril, a former military officer in the Syrian Army who had been one of the PFLP's early leaders. The PFLP-GC declared that its primary focus would be military, not political, complaining that the PFLP had been devoting too much time and resources to Marxist philosophizing.
Although the group was initially a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), it always opposed Yassir Arafat and opposes any political settlement with Israel; for this reason, it has never participated in the peace process. The PFLP-GC left the PLO in 1974 to join the Rejectionist Front, protesting what they saw as the PLO's move towards an accommodation with Israel in the Arafat-backed Ten Point Program of the Palestinian National Council (PNC). Unlike most of the organizations involved in the Rejectionist Front, the PFLP-GC never resumed its role within the PLO.
The group has limited influence in Palestinian politics, but is still influential in the Palestinian refugee camps of Syria, where it is based, and Lebanon, where Syrian support added to its importance.
The current trend of democratic elections sweeping the West Bank, Gaza, andLebanon threatens the General Command with extinction. One of the reasons is that most political groups, even Hamas and the PFLP, are today open to participation in a legally elected Palestinian Legislative Council, as opposed to 2000 when many of the insurgent groups in the West Bank and Gaza viewed the PLC as a body that collaborated with the US and Israel and that had been manipulated by them to concede on important issues like borders and refugee status. Yet the PFLP-GC has no relevance in the political spectrum within the West Bank and Gaza, as it lacks any organizational structure or membership in those areas.
NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security
777 United Nations Plaza, Suite 3B
New York, NY 10017
Comments or Questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel. 212.687.5340 | Fax 212.687.1643