- Hundreds of mourners, including his successor, Ziad al-Nakhala, were permitted to gather for his burial amid the coronavirus pandemic threat.
- President Abbas and the Hamas group mourned Shalah's passing.
- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, hailed Shalah as an intellectual, pragmatic, serious and an intelligent person.
Ramadan Shalah, who led the Iran-backed Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) for over 20 years, was buried in Syria a day after succumbing to heart and kidney disease on Saturday. He was 62. The former Palestinian militant group leader had been in a coma for about two years, and died in neighboring Lebanon.
Hundreds of mourners, including his successor, Ziad al-Nakhala, were permitted to gather for his burial amid the coronavirus pandemic threat. He was buried in a cemetery in Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, a place he had wished to be buried if not his birthplace in the Gaza Strip.
The militant group, in its farewell statement, said he was a great leader, adding it will continue with its goal. “We pledge to continue the route of resistance until we liberate Palestine with the allies in Syria, Iran and Hezbollah,” Nakhalah said during the funeral.
The PIJ said that Shalah had been in a coma for about two years after undergoing heart surgery. “We mourn the passing of a great Palestinian leader who held the banner of Jihad for Palestine and Jerusalem since the founding of the movement,” the group said in a statement while confirming his death on Saturday.
While paying tribute to the leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said “we have lost a major patriotic figure.” The Hamas Movement, based in Gaza, said that Shalah was one of Palestine’s great leaders. He was a role model as a fighter, and an example of honesty, patience and resilience, Hamas said.
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, hailed Shalah as an intellectual, pragmatic, serious and an intelligent person. Iran supports the group through provision of military capabilities and training.
In 2006, Shalah was listed among the world’s most wanted terrorists, and a $5 million bounty was offered for anyone who would provide any information that would lead to his arrest. This was due to the role the group played in attacks against Israelis in Palestine.
The 62 year-old was born in Gaza. He did his PhD in Economics in the United Kingdom, and lectured at the University of South Florida before taking leadership of the group. Shalah led Islamic Jihad from 1996 to 2018.
He took over leadership of the group after its founder, Fathi Shikaki, was shot dead in Malta in 1995 in an attack for which Israel was blamed. In 2018, his deputy, Ziad al Nakhalah, was named the leader by the group.
The PIJ was founded as a response to Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West bank after it defeated several Arab States in the 1967 Six Day War. Islamic Jihadist does most of its activities in the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip, although it has offices in Syria and Lebanon. The group has taken part in a series of rocket attacks, suicide bombings, and shootings that have killed many Israelis.