- JERUSALEM (AFP) - The Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which claimed the
of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi on Wednesday morning, is a small,
left-wing group that had promised to avenge the recent killing of its own
- The gunning down of the hardline Zeevi in a Jerusalem
hotel took place several days after mourning ended for the late PFLP
Abu Ali Mustapha, killed in an Israeli helicopter gunship attack on August
- The PFLP had sworn that the "hunt-and-kill"
assassination of Mustapha in the West Bank town of Ramallah would not go
- Mustapha returned to the occupied territories in 1999
after spending 18 years in exile in Syria, where the PFLP is based, and
was elected in July of last year to replace the group's former leader and
founder, George Habash.
- The PFLP claim of responsibility made a direct link
the two killings.
- "The Brigades of the Martyr Abu Ali Mustapha declare
to have attacked the Zionist terrorist ... Rehavam Zeevi to avenge"
the death of Mustafa, it said in a statement sent to AFP.
- "The terrorist Sharon and his criminal band must
know that Palestinian blood is so precious, and the wave of attacks against
Palestinian officials and militants will not go unpunished," it
- Analysts had seen signs the PFLP would become
militant after Mustafa's death, especially the appointment of a known
48-year-old Ahmad Sadat, as his successor earlier this month.
- Many also saw Sadat's selection as a way to capitalize
on the growing popularity of hardline groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad
among ordinary Palestinians since the start of the intifada, or uprising,
- The PFLP was founded in 1967 by Habash, a Palestinian
Christian, amid a wave of Arab nationalism fostered by former Egyptian
president Gamal Abdel Nasser, and who gave the group its original Marxist
- Right from its conception, the PFLP considered Israel
an enemy to be attacked anywhere in the world and quickly made good on
- Just a year after it was formed it hijacked an Israeli
El-Al flight to Algeria in July of 1968 in the name of the Palestinian
- And in September 1970, its members carried out a
series of five straight hijackings, three from Zarka in Jordan, one from
London and another from Cairo.
- Those hijackings came amid the vicious fighting in 1970
between Palestinians and the Jordanian army, which resulted in the
the next year of the Palestinian military presence in that country.
- The PFLP then started to stage attacks inside Israeli
- On May 30, 1972, three Japanese Red Army members acting
in the PFLP's name opened fire into a crowd at the Lod airport serving
Tel Aviv, killing 28 people and wounding another 78.
- And in 1984 the group claimed responsibility for
an Israeli passenger bus from Ashkelon to Tel Aviv. By the time it was
all over, one of the passengers and four PFLP members were dead.
- The PFLP joined the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO) in 1971 and became its radical Marxist wing.
- For seven years it led the Rejection Front of hardline
Palestinian groups, which rejected any compromise with Israel and
the leadership of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
- Like the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
(DFLP), which is also based in Damascus, the group is still hostile to
all Middle East peace efforts, including the 1993 Oslo accords in which
Israel and the Palestinian were to reach a "final status"
- However, in July 1999 Arafat's Fatah movement and the
PFLP decided to reactivate the PLO to reconcile those those in favor and
those against the Oslo peace process.
- The PFLP, Fatah and the DFLP make up the three main parts
of the PLO.
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