Ex-Palestine leader of Islamic group dies after battle with illness

Ramadan Shallah was elected head of Iran-backed group after its ex-chief was killed in 1995. (Twitter pic/Ramadan Shalah)

BEIRUT: A former leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group Ramadan Shallah has died after battling illness, al-Manar TV reported on Saturday.

Shallah, 62, served as secretary-general of the Iran-backed group from 1995 to 2018.

Al-Manar did not specify the exact nature of the illness.

Labelled a terrorist organisation by the United States, European Union and others, the group has waged attacks on Israel and aims to establish an Islamic Palestinian state.

“By losing Shallah we lost a great national man,” said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a statement published by the Palestinian official news agency Wafa.

Shallah was born in Gaza in 1958 and studied in Egypt before earning a PhD in economics in the United Kingdom.

He was elected head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad after the killing of the group’s former chief, Fathi Shiqaqi, in 1995.