top of page

Fatah al-Intifada


Introduction & Overview


Fatah al-Intifada is an armed militant Palestinian faction which is active in the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Founded by Colonel Said al-Murugha, also known as Abu Musa, it officially represents itself as the ‘Palestinian National Liberation Movement - Fatah’, although it is not a part of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO); it split from the main Fatah organisation in 1983 due to wanting to correct “the course of the revolution”. This came about following internal disagreements over the direction of the Palestinian struggle.

 

History & Foundations


The group was created in 1983 following internal disagreements within the Fatah movement over the direction in which Yasser Arafat was taking the Palestinian struggle. The PLO, in agreement with the Israelis, had decided to relocate the fighters of the PLO after the Siege of Beirut in 1982 to Tunisia and other Arab countries (Schlaim, 2014, p.425). Colonel Abu Mousa returned to Damascus after the Siege of Beirut to announce an “intifada within the Fatah movement” (Al-Tamimi, 2018). This was done under the impression that Arafat and other executive decision makers within the PLO had betrayed the original mission of the Palestinian movement and that being relocated to Tunisia and elsewhere would be a mistake. In 1984, Abu Musa led Fatah al-Intifada to join the Palestinian National Alliance in Damascus but failed to gain a majority of Palestinian support in opposition to the PLO. Opposing the Oslo Accords in 1993, it has been unable to secure a mainline role in present day Palestinian politics. 


Moreover, the group has regularly backed Syrian initiatives to influence Palestinian politics (Al-Tamimi, 2018). Fatah al-Intifada has also fought alongside the Syrian government in the Syrian civil war, taking part in several battles such as the Siege of Eastern Ghouta and the Southern Damascus offensive (AGPS, 2018a). The group has begun to lay off fighters due to the decreasing intensity of the Syrian Civil War and a lack of funding (AGPS, 2018b). However, as of 2024, the group has been active in the recent escalation of the conflict in Gaza, sending fighters to fight against the IDF (Dostor, 2024).

 

Objectives & Ideology


The stated aims of the Fatah al-Intifada group are similar to other Palestinian liberation groups. This includes the “liberation of Palestine by both armed struggle and armed resistance” and also the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with “noble Jerusalem'' as its capital city (Al-Tamimi, 2018). The group also has socialist elements incorporated within its ideological basis and it has often taken a broader leftist orientation within Fatah. For instance, this can be demonstrated through Abu Musa’s visions – he notably claimed that the Lebanese Civil War was not a sectarian conflict (which was a relatively mainstream view), but that it was a form of class war instead (Khalidi, 1983).

 

Military/Political Abilities


Due to the group's relative inactivity since the Oslo Accords, its military abilities are relatively difficult to gauge. During the 1980s, the groups were involved in several attacks on Israel, including on Israeli civilians. It took part in the War of the camps in the 1980s which was a Syrian attempt to remove the PLO from its refugee camp strongholds. Additionally, more recently, it has been active in Syria as a Syrian government-backed group. It has participated in several of the aforementioned battles such as the Siege of Eastern Ghouta and the Southern Damascus offensive, in which several of its members have died in fighting against ISIS (AGPS, 2018a). Images of the group feature small arms such as AKMs and Ak-47s which highlight the group’s relative lack of funding as opposed to other groups which reduces its military capabilities significantly. 



As of 2024, the group has been active in the Gaza strip conflict in which similarly, images of the group feature small arms such as AK-47s. In regards to its political abilities, Fatah al-Intifada has severely reduced capabilities due to its distancing from mainline PLO oriented groups which occurred upon its founding in the 1980s (Al-Tamimi, 2018). Its military wing, Al-Asifah Forces, actively records its operations since October 7th and these videos (as seen below) circulate online.



Approach to Resistance


The group is violent and has attacked Israeli forces and other groups in the region such as ISIS. It is relatively small in size in comparison to other groups and is estimated to have 3000-3500 members (Eshel, 2005). Most of its military approaches are similar to those of other groups recently active in Gaza. The group seemingly uses explosive devices and Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs), as seen below.



International Relations & Potential Alliances


The group has several alliances, most notably to the Syrian government which has used it as a proxy force in the Syrian Civil War. However, the group has reportedly fought against Hamas in the Yarmouk Camp for example and it has coordinated with the al-Qassam Battalions in Gaza. However the group reportedly holds no political meetings with any other Palestinian group in any of the regions it is active (Al-Tamimi, 2018).


Works Cited (MLA-style)

AGPS (2018a). 11 Palestinian refugees died in the ongoing clashes in south Damascus. [online] actionpal.org.uk. Available at: https://actionpal.org.uk/en/post/6993/action-group-for-palestinians-of-syria/11-palestinian-refugees-died-in-the-ongoing-clashes-in-south-damascus.


AGPS (2018b). Pro-Government Palestinian Factions Lay off Scores of Gunmen. [online] actionpal.org.uk. Available at: https://actionpal.org.uk/en/post/7604/action-group-for-palestinians-of-syria/pro-government-palestinian-factions-lay-off-scores-of-gunmen.


Al-Tamimi, A.J. (2018). Fatah al-Intifada in Syria: Interview. [online] Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi’s Blog. Available at: https://aymennjawad.org/2018/12/fatah-al-intifada-in-syria-interview.


Dostor (2024). ما قصة فصائل المقاومة الجديدة التى دخلت على خط القتال مع حماس؟. [online] dostor.org. Available at: https://www.dostor.org/4613701.


Eshel, D. (2005). Arafat’s Dissidents: Challenge to Abu Mazen? [online] Defense Update. Available at: https://web.archive.org/web/20121111073833/https://defense-update.com/2005/02/arafats-dissidents-challenge-to-abu.html.


Khalidi, R. (1983). Behind the Fatah Rebellion. [online] MERIP. Available at: https://merip.org/1983/11/behind-the-fatah-rebellion/.


Schlaim, A. (2014). The iron wall : Israel and the Arab world by A. Schlaim. New York: W.W. Norton, p.425.


Comments


bottom of page