120 members of the Islamic Jihad movement in Bethlehem announced on Wednesday their resignation from the movement in protest to the movement’s position which rejects the participation in the Palestinian Legislative Elections.
The resigned members decided to support Mohammad Shihata, one of the movement’s main leaders who decided to participate in the elections as an independent candidate.
Some of the reigned members are wanted by the Israeli security, this includes candidate Mohammad Shihata who has been wanted by Israel since twelve years.
Israel claims that Shihata planned several attacks which were carried against Israeli targets. He was also arrested by the Palestinian authority before Israel deported him, fifteen years ago, along with several leaders of Hamas movement to Marj Al Zohour area, south of Lebanon.
Shihata is 45 years old; he was arrested by the Israeli army in 1980 and was sentenced to 25 years after he was charged of firing at an Israel soldier in Bethlehem in retaliation to the death of Taghreed Al Batma, who was killed by Israel military fire inside Bethlehem university campus.
He was released in 1985 in a prisoners swap deal between Israel and a Palestinian Factions in Syria.
After the outbreak of the Al Aqsa Intifada, the army carried several assassination and arrest attempts against Shihata but he always managed to avoid these attempts with the help of several members of the Islamic Jihad who always organized and calculated any movement he intended to conduct.
This year, Shihata decided to run the elections which are boycotted by his movement; after consulting with his team, he decided to run as an independent candidate.
"I decided to participate in the elections as a candidate for I know very well that these elections could serve our people", he said, "I also carried my weapon and fought because I believe in the effectiveness of armed struggle".
In his campaign, he concentrates on the families of the residents who were killed by the army (the martyrs), and also concentrates on achieving the rights of the injured residents, the deportees, and the residents "who are sided by groups or individuals who seeks personal benefits".
According to activists who support Shihata, he supervises his campaign from his hideout, and in most of the cases his election headquarter is filled by his supporters, while he send messages to be read or talks to the people over phone.