July 28, 2021

The death of pro-Syrian Palestinian leader Ahmed Jibril

Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-CG), a radical Palestinian guerrilla movement, subservient to Syria, died on July 7 in Damascus at the age of 83. A member of the generation of the founders of the Palestinian national movement, Ahmed Jibril opposed, arms in hand, the most famous of them, Yasser Arafat, the head of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) of 1969 to 2004, which he criticized for his strategic turn in favor of negotiations with Israel.

Born in 1938, in Jaffa, in British Mandate Palestine, to a Syrian mother and a Palestinian father, he grew up in Damascus and enlisted in the Syrian army, of which he became an officer. In 1959, he created the Palestinian Liberation Front, which in 1967 merged with Georges Habache’s Movement of Arab Nationalists to create the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an organization combining pan-Arabism and Marxism, opposed to Fatah nationalists. , the party of Yasser Arafat.

A year later, Ahmed Jibril splits this organization, which he accuses of devoting too much time to theoretical debates, and establishes the PFLP-CG, a group funded by the Syrian Baathist regime, with a purely military vocation. This group, although small in size, is distinguished by the often spectacular and bloody aspect of its operations, which will result in it being classified as terrorist by the United States and the European Union.

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In 1970, the PFLP-CG detonated a Swiss Air aircraft connecting Zurich to Hong Kong, with a stopover in Tel Aviv. The forty-seven people on board, including fifteen Israelis, perished in the attack. That same year, its fighters infiltrated northern Israel and bazooka fire at a school bus, killing twelve people. The Israeli bombardments carried out in retaliation on Lebanese villages kill around 20 people.

Four years later, as southern Lebanon has become a land of Israeli-Palestinian warfare, the PFLP-CG perpetrates another massacre in the northern Jewish state, in Kiryat Chmonah, fatal to eighteen civilians. In 1985, the formation reached the peak of its sulphurous notoriety by obtaining the release of 1,150 Palestinians, prisoners in Israel, against that of three Israeli soldiers, captured in Lebanon. An arrangement dubbed the “Jibril agreement”.

In the meantime, the PFLP-CG has entered into dissent with Yasser Arafat. The keffiyeh leader, who had to evacuate Beirut with the bulk of his forces in 1982, is moving towards recognition of UN resolution 242, the basis for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. On the orders of the Syrian President, Hafez Al-Assad, who sees the PLO as an obstacle to its desire for hegemony in Lebanon, Ahmed Jibril and his men take part in two offensives against the last square of “Arafatists” in the land of the Cedars. : the siege of Tripoli, in 1983, and the “war of the camps”, between 1985 and 1987.

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