Beyond Hamas: Militant and Terrorist Groups Involved in the October 7 Attack on Israel

Examining current and potential involvement of militant terrorist groups in the Israel-Hamas conflict, beginning with the October 7 attacks

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October 18, 2023

October 7: Hamas attacks Israel

In the midst of the Israel-Hamas War, which erupted with a surprising and devastating attack on October 7, 2023 that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,300 Israelis, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the dynamics of this complex conflict extend beyond the actions of Hamas alone. While Hamas took the lead in launching the initial assault, there is evidence, outlined in this article, that numerous other militant and terrorist groups worked in concert with Hamas, which continues to shape the trajectory of the ongoing conflict.

Based on frontline reportage, open-source intelligence, including social media and message platforms, and Flashpoint collections surrounding the events on October 7, we explore the roles and actions of additional militant and terrorist factions, shedding light on their collective impact in the evolving Israel-Hamas War. 

We will update this article as the situation in Israel, Gaza, and the Middle East develops.

Militant and Terrorist Groups Involved in October 7 Attack on Israel

Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (كتائب الشهيد عز الدين القسام)

Operation Al-Aqsa Tufan (Flood) involved coordinated attacks from the Gaza Strip into bordering areas in Israel on October 7, coinciding with a major Jewish holiday and marking the beginning of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war. The attack included a rocket barrage of thousands of missiles, vehicle-transported incursions into Israeli territory, kidnappings, including at a music festival, and significant civilian casualties. It has been described as one of the bloodiest days in Israel’s history and the deadliest for Jews since the Holocaust. Founded in the late 1980s, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the militant wing of the terrorist organization Hamas. It has been designated as a terrorist organization by several countries, including the United States, Israel, and the European Union. 

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (الجهاد الإسلامي الفلسطيني)

As we previously reported, Hamas and PIJ communicate often with followers via Telegram. On the day after the October 7 attacks, PIJ, in one of its main channels, posted that “the elite of Al-Quds Brigades is entering the border to support al-Qassam Brigades fighters (Hamas) and supply them with weapons.” It has also been reported that PIJ took part in the October 7 attacks alongside Hamas.

On October 17, a rocket hit the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians. In a statement, Israeli Defense Forces said that “[Palestinian] Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza.” PIJ has denied the allegation in a statement, reportedly calling it “false and baseless.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a Palestinian terrorist organization that is designated by several countries, including the United States, Israel, and the European Union. It was founded in the late 1970s with the goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state and has carried out attacks against Israel.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (كتائب شهداء الأقصى)

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is a Palestinian militant organization affiliated with Fatah, a major Palestinian political party, that has carried out attacks and other activities against Israel. One of the key players in Palestinian politics today, Al-Aqsa Martyrs brigade was founded in the late 1950s and has historically been associated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The group was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US Department of State in 2002.

Above: Screengrab from October 7 showing a video of a man wearing a headband with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade emblem. The video, posted in an official Al-Aqsa Martys Brigade Telegram channel, shows the man speaking alongside a gravely injured Israeli soldier. The message hashtag translates to “#Scenes_of_enemy_soldiers_capture” (Image: Flashpoint)

Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (الجبهة الديمقراطية لتحرير فلسطين)

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) is a Palestinian political and militant organization founded in 1969, known for its left-wing and Marxist ideologies. It has historically aimed for the liberation of Palestine and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state through both militaristic and political means. While a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), it has not been as prominent as other Palestinian factions like Fatah or Hamas in recent years.

Above: Pictures posted by an official Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine showing armed militants reportedly inside Israeli territory on October 7. (Image: Flashpoint)

Palestinian Mujahideen Movement (حركة المجاهدين الفلسطينيين)

The Palestinian Mujahideen Movement is a Palestinian militant organization that emerged in the early 1970s with the goal of resisting Israeli occupation and achieving Palestinian self-determination through various armed activities and operations against Israeli forces. However, it is not as widely recognized or prominent as Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Above: Screengrab of an official Palestinian Mujahideen Movement channel showing an image of Dr. Asaad Abu Sharia, the General of the Palestinian Mujahideen Movement, congratulating the “heroes…who stormed the positions and settlements of [Israel].”

We have shared this Telegram message in lieu of the many messages shared in the same channel the day prior, October 7, that showed graphically violent images of what appears to be soldiers in IDF uniforms. (Image: Flashpoint)

Popular Resistance Committees (لجان المقاومة الشعبية)

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), whose military wing is referred to as Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades (ألوية الناصر صلاح الدين), are a coalition of various Palestinian factions and armed groups in the Gaza Strip. They were formed in the early 2000s during the Second Intifada, a period of intense Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The PRC includes members from different political and militant backgrounds and has carried out attacks against Israel. While not as prominent as terrorist organizations like Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the PRC has played a role in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as evidenced by the events of October 7, 2023.

Above: Screengrab of communications within the official Al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades Telegram channel from October 7, alongside photos of allegedly confiscated military equipment and IDs belonging to captured Israeli soldiers. (Image: Flashpoint)

Those who could join the fight

Lebanese Hezbollah (حزب الله اللبناني)

Though not directly involved in the October 7 attacks, Lebanese Hezbollah and Israel have exchanged assaults in connection with the ongoing Israel-Hamas War since October 8.

Also known as Hezbollah, Lebanese Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamist political and militant organization based in Lebanon. It was founded in the early 1980s with support from Iran, following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Hezbollah’s primary goal is to resist Israel and promote Shiite interests in Lebanon and the wider region. The group was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US Department of State in 1997, the same year as Hamas and PIJ.

Lions’ Den (عرين الأسود)

Saraya al-Quds Military spokesman Abu Hamza has called for Lions’ Den and Jenin Brigade, another Palestinian militant group, to join the fight.

The Lions’ Den is a Palestinian militant group in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, formed in August 2022. Comprising members from various Palestinian militant and terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, along with disaffected Fatah members, it resonates with some young Palestinians frustrated by the Israeli occupation, settlements, settler violence, and the perceived ineffectiveness of the Palestinian Authority. They have engaged in various West Bank attacks, funded in part by Hamas.

These profiles represent the most meaningful actors on the digital and physical frontlines of the Israel-Hamas War at the moment. Flashpoint has seen an expansion of participants as the conflict unfolds and expands into new physical and digital theaters. We will therefore update this article as the situation continues to develop.

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