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Palestinian Liberation Army


The Palestinian Liberation Army (Palestinian Liberation Army) was formed as a military outfit of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the year 1964 by Nasser and its sole objective was to fight the Israeli Nation which was posing as a threat to the Arab Community in the Middle East. It is important to note that even though it was formed under the Palestine Liberation Organization it has never been effectively under the control of the organization but rather it has been under the control of various national governments that hosts it for a certain period. The most notable government that has been controlling the Palestinian Liberation Army is the government of Syria.


After Palestinian Liberation Army was created it was headed by Ahmad Shukeiri and it was controlled by the Arab States most notable being Egypt which was under Nasser. The Palestinians did not have the independence to control the Palestinian Liberation Army until Fatah a faction that was headed by Yasser Arafat forced the control of the Palestinian Liberation Army from Palestinians who were fully backed by Nasser in the year 1968 and 1969 after Israel emerged victorious in the Six-Day War where Israel was feted against the unification of Arab States from the Middle East. This victory had a very humiliating effect on the Arab States and hence the need for the Palestinian Liberation Army which was gaining importance to be controlled by other governments when the controlling country had failed to utilize it in the Six-Day War (William, 2004).

The Palestinian Liberation Army was initially organized in three brigades namely; the Ayn Jalut which was based in Gaza at that time being a territory of Egypt, the Qadisiyyah which was initially based in Iraq but later Jordan in the 1967 transfer, and finally Hattin which has been based in Syria. Palestinian refugees were the main staff of the brigades and it was under the control of the host countries that is, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. These countries performed their military operation through the Palestinian Liberation Army rather than their national military organizations (Shaul, 2001).

When highly performing, the Palestinian Liberation Army involved about eight brigades and had over twelve thousand foot soldiers that were fully uniformed. These soldiers were armed with such things as small arms, rocket launchers, mortars, T-34 tanks, and armored personnel carriers. It is important to note that the Palestinian Liberation Army was never used to fight as a single unit for the Palestinian Liberation Organization but instead used battalion-sized elements as an enforcer of the controller government’s military (Rashid, 2007).

Literature Review

After the resolutions of the first Palestinian Conference in the year 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Army was established and it was formed as the military branch of the Palestinian Liberation Organization officially (William, 2004). It is important to note that at that time the Palestinian Liberation Army had three major brigades known as Ein Jalut, Kadissiya, and Hiteen which were based in Gaza (Egypt), Iraq, and Syria respectively (Rashid, 2007). However, recently the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) some of the important elements of the brigades based in Egypt and Jordan have been taken over by the PNA military (Rashid, 2007). However, there are reports that there are still over 4,500 Palestinian Liberation Army is still to be found in Syria (Helena, 1999).

The Palestinian Liberation Organization is an organization of Arabs and many states and groups have regarded them with suspicion because they are seen as terrorists who use terror to ensure that Palestinian is independent and its territories range from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and this is also a place that is also shared with Israel (Rashid, 2007). In the recent past, the main objective of the PLO has been seen as the restoration of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as the territories of Palestine although within the organization this sentiment is not shared by all leaders of the PLO (Helena, 2005).

The Palestinian Liberation Organization was established in the year 1964 and has a legislative body composed of three hundred members and is known as the Palestinian National Council (PNC). Major decisions are made by an executive committee which is composed of fifteen people (Shaul, 2001). Its main ideology is founded on the Palestinian National Charter that was created in the year 1964 and amended in the year 1968 (Shaul, 2001).

In the year 1968, the Popular Liberation Forces were established to function within the existing framework of the Palestinian Liberation Army and it was specifically designed to perform a commando-style assault of the Israel Forces who were occupying the Gaza Strip (William, 2004). However, this did not materialize because the Palestinian Liberation Army did not approve of this kind of underground siege and this can be rooted in the fact that the outfit had been established as a showpiece in the international forum (Helena, 1999).

The percentage of the Stateless people of Palestine
Figure 1. The percentage of the Stateless people of Palestine

A Pie Chart showing the percentage of the Stateless people of Palestine and the entire population is more than14,000,000

Palestinian Liberation Army being used as a Palestinian outfit was no more than a political cover by the controlling and hosting governments. The controlling countries especially Syria made great utilization of their PLA units in various operations (Helena, 1999). The most notable incident is in the year 1970 when the Syrian military hastily repainted its army tanks and under the PLA command went into Jordan and helped the Palestinian guerrillas in the battle known as Black September (Shaul, 2001). However, the mission was thwarted by the threat of the United States and Israel to intervene in the fighting and this brought about a humiliation to the Syrian government which led to the overthrow of the Salah Jadid regime by Hafez al-Assad (William, 2004). However, Syria would also continue to make use of the PLA and this was especially the Lebanese Civil War where the government of Syria made use of the PLA as a proxy force(Helena, 2005). However, this mission would also backfire when the fighting led to a situation where the PLA soldiers were forced to fight other Palestinians and this led to mass defections (Shaul, 2001). During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon by Israel, much of the PLA was destroyed and many of its soldiers left for Tunis (Helena, 1999).

In present times, the PLA soldiers have been incorporated into the Palestinian National Authority and National Guard and this was after the treaty of Oslo Accords in the year 1993. These accords were entered into to allow the Palestinian Territories to be in better positions in the PNA security services (Shaul, 2001).

The PLA faction in Syria remains operative and is closely controlled by the as-Saiqa faction which is in turn greatly controlled by the government of Syria. However, the importance of PLA has significantly vanished. However, the Palestinian refugees in Syria are still called to perform various military actions for the PLA. The most important thing to note is that although the PLA still exists, it is not under the control of the PLO and is incorporated into the Syrian Army (William, 2004). PLA still is demonstrated as an independent entity and from time to time it has organized rallies with a pro-government outlook that celebrates the cause of the Syrian government’s commitment to the sovereignty of the Palestinian republic(Helena, 2005).


To the nature of this study, primary sources have not been able to be used in the study. However, the study has fully utilized secondary sources such as books, journals, news articles, and internet sources.


PLA although being formed under the tutelage of the Arab countries to ensure that Palestine was liberated from the oppression that it was meted by Israel has developed to be used by other governments to further their interests. It has been noted that the PLA has been used to execute several terrorist activities around the world and this does not in any way further the Palestinian interest. The Syrian government has been noted to use the PLA as a branch of its military forces and this has brought about some diplomatic problems with other countries most notable being the United States of America and Israel. PLA has also been used as a terrorist outfit of the controlling governments (Rashid, 2007).

The study has noted that PLA has ceased operating in the objectives of Palestine and has been grossly involved in terror activities. It has also been used to fight other Arab countries and this is noted especially during the Black September fighting (Rashid, 2007).


  1. Helena C. (1999). The Palestinian Liberation Organisation Cambridge University Press, p.30
  2. Helena C. (2005), The Palestinian Liberation Organisation: People, Power and Politics, p. 3
  3. Rashid K. (2007), The Iron Cage, The Story of the Struffle for Palestinian Statehood, p. 180
  4. Shaul, M. & Ranan D. K. & David B. (2001) Investment in Peace: Politics of Economic Cooperation Between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority Sussex Academic Press, p. 64.
  5. William L. C (2004). A History of the Modern Middle East, Westview Press.
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Work Cited

"Palestinian Liberation Army." OctoStudy, 23 Mar. 2022, octostudy.com/palestinian-liberation-army/.

1. OctoStudy. "Palestinian Liberation Army." March 23, 2022. https://octostudy.com/palestinian-liberation-army/.


OctoStudy. "Palestinian Liberation Army." March 23, 2022. https://octostudy.com/palestinian-liberation-army/.


OctoStudy. 2022. "Palestinian Liberation Army." March 23, 2022. https://octostudy.com/palestinian-liberation-army/.


OctoStudy. (2022) 'Palestinian Liberation Army'. 23 March.

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