Former leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement Ramadan Shallah has passed away after battling a long illness.
Shallah, who served as secretary general of the resistance group from 1995 to 2018, died at the age of 62 on Saturday night, according to Lebanon’s al-Manar television network.
The Gaza-based movement said in a statement that Shallah had been in a coma for more than three years. It didn’t say where he died, but he is believed to have been in Lebanon.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered his condolences over the death of Shallah.
“By losing Shallah we lost a great national man,” he said in a statement carried by the Palestinian WAFA news agency.
The Palestinian embassy in Beirut said at the time that he may have been poisoned by Israel.
Shallah was born in Gaza in 1958 and studied in Egypt before earning a PhD in economics in the United Kingdom.
He led the Islamic Jihad movement for more than 20 years, after its founder, Fathi Shiqaqi, was assassinated in Malta in 1995 in an attack widely attributed to Israel.
In 2018, Shallah’s deputy Ziad al-Nakhalah was named as a new leader of the movement, which was founded in 1981 to realize the Palestinian cause in establishing an independent state.
Alongside the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement, a Gaza-based ally, the Islamic Jihad has defended the Palestinians against the Israeli regime during three deadly imposed wars since 2008.