by Ayman Ahmed
Dr Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, former leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, passed away on Saturday (June 6) evening.
Inna lil Lah-e wa inna Ilayh-e raji‘oon (Verily, we are from Allah and to Him is our return).
He was 62. The announcement about his death was made by Lebanon’s al-Manar television network on Saturday evening.
The Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei issued the following statement regarding the loss of Dr. Shallah.
“I extend my condolences on the passing away of Dr Ramadan Abdullah to the dear Palestinian nation and all fighters whose hearts are with the Palestinian issue, especially the self-sacrificing ‘Islamic Jihad movement of Palestine’ and also the family of this blessed departed soul.”
Acknowledging his life-long struggle for the liberation of Palestine, the Rahbar said: “The Palestinian resistance lost a very valuable element. I hope that with the guidance and help of God, the Jihadi efforts of the worthy successors who follow the path of such Mujahideen as Fathi Shaqaqi and Ramadan Abdullah will make up for this loss.”
Islamic Jihad, the Gaza-based movement had said in a statement on June 6 that Dr. Shallah had been in a coma for nearly three years.
He served as secretary general of the resistance movement from 1995 to April 2018.
“In April 2018, Shallah suffered several heart attacks and was transferred from the Syrian capital, Damascus, where he was based, to Beirut for surgery. He failed to regain consciousness.
“The Palestinian embassy in Beirut said at the time that he may have been poisoned by Israel,” according to the Iranian television channel, Press TV.
His funeral was held in Damascus today, attended by a large number of resistance leaders and fighters, including his successor as Secretary General of Islamic Jihad, Ziyad al-Nakhalah.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif both issued messages of condolence over the passing of the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.
President Rouhani said that Dr. Shallah had spent all his life in defending and supporting the cause of the oppressed people of Palestine.
“Ramadan Abdullah was [a] source of lasting services in the history of this country’s combatants, which will shine like a beacon of light for the next generations in the field of jihad and resistance,” Iran’s president said, according to Press TV.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also offered a message of condolence, reflecting the high esteem in which Dr Shallah was held by officials and people of Iran.
“With great sadness and sorrow, I learnt about the passing of Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the late Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, after a lifetime of struggle and Jihad as well as sincere effort and sacrifice for the holy cause of Palestine and the noble Quds,” Dr. Zarif said.
“I offer my condolences to the valiant Palestinian people, especially Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the new Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad Movement and all his comrades in the resistance groups, as well as to his family.
“I am sure that his memory will remain in the minds of all freedom-loving nations of the world, especially the Palestinian and Iranian nations, as a symbol of resistance and struggle,” Dr. Zarif added.
Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah had assumed leadership of Islamic Jihad after its leader Dr Fathi Shiqaqi was assassinated in 1995 in Malta. He was returning from a visit to Libya.
It is widely believed that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was responsible for the killing.
In characteristic style, the Zionist regime refused to comment on the charge, reinforcing speculation that Mossad was behind the targeted assassination.
This constitutes a war crime but the Zionist regime has got away with such crimes for decades because it is shielded by most Western regimes.
Born in the Shujaiya refugee camp in Gaza on January 1, 1958, Dr Shallah went to Egypt for graduate studies.
It was in Egypt that he met Dr Fathi Shiqaqi with whom he co-founded the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.
After obtaining a degree in Economics in 1981, he returned to Gaza to teach at the Islamic University.
His strong stand against Zionist occupation urging people to resist the occupiers soon led to the Zionists putting him under house arrest and banning him from teaching.
He continued his anti-occupation struggle in other ways by sending written messages to Palestinian youth to motivate them.
Getting an opportunity for post-graduate studies at Durham University in Britain, he left Gaza in 1986.
Dr. Shallah obtained a PhD in Banking and Economics in 1990.
In 1993, he moved to the US to teach for a while at the University of South Florida.
He was keen to help reduce differences with Hamas, the other Islamic movement in Palestine and worked hard toward this end.
Islamic Jihad may have lost a leader, but the struggle against Zionist occupation will continue.
(This report was compiled by our correspondent Ayman Ahmed from Beirut)