Qassam, Izz Al-Din Al-

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QASSAM, IZZ AL-DIN AL-

Syrian-Palestinian resistance fighter (1881–1935). Born in Jabla, Syria, and given a religious education in Latakia and at al-Azhar University in Cairo, Izz al-Din al-Qassam became a preacher in Syria. After 1920, he spoke out against French rule under the post-World War I Mandate, and was active in anti-French political resistance. Sentenced to death in the mid-1920s, he fled to Haifa, where he preached against the British and the Zionists. He founded, at the end of the 1920s, an activist group called the Black Hand, for the purpose of undertaking armed actions against Zionist colonists. In October 1935, he took to the countryside in the mountains near Jenin, at the head of a group of several hundred partisans. On 19 November, tracked by British forces, Qassam was killed in battle in Yaʿbad, becoming the first martyr of the Palestinian resistance. Almost sixty years later, both HAMAS and Palestinian Islamic Jihad named the armed branches of their movements, responsible for many attacks against Israel, after him.

SEE ALSO Azhar, al-; HAMAS; Palestinian Islamic Jihad.