The declaration was made in response to an interview given by IDF Chief-of-Staff, Lt.Gen. Dan Halutz, to a French newspaper. Halutz told the paper that the IDF was no longer targeting members of that terror group because it had joined up with the PA’s armed forces and was no longer involved in attacks against Israel.

Calling the Galilee, “occupied territory,” a spokesman for the Brigades said the organization would continue the armed struggle to liberate it.

The Galilee district, located in Israel’s north, has an Arab majority. Not unlike Judea and Samaria, it is dotted with dozens of Arab villages and densely populated cities, many located adjacent to small Jewish communities. It was the focal point for riots and violent disturbances against the Israeli government when the Oslo War broke out in September, 2001.

The PA has repeatedly called for Israel to evacuate Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Jerusalem, in order to establish a Palestinian state in these areas, but generally makes no reference to regions, such as the Galilee, that make up Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries.

Under the Oslo accords, the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized Israel’s pre-1967 borders, except for Jerusalem. The PLO and Fatah, its largest faction, rule territories ceded by Israel under the Oslo accords via the Palestinian Authority.

The PA apparently has accepted the Al Aksa Brigades into its armed forces despite that fact that it does not recognize Israel’s right to exist in its pre-1967 borders.

Terrorist groups that often stand in opposition to the PA, declare their intent to “liberate” all of Israel and annihilate the Jewish state.

The Al Aksa Brigades has accused Israel and the United States of plotting to dismantle the group. They also claim that senior officials of the PA are collaborating with the U.S. and Israel on this issue.

The Brigades has announced its intention to run candidates for the Palestinian legislature in elections scheduled for January 2006.

The Al Aksa Brigades were established shortly after the onset of the Oslo War in September 2000 in response to Ariel Sharon’s tour of the Temple Mount as Israel’s opposition leader. The group takes its name from the Al Aksa mosque located on the Mount, and effectively functions as the Fatah’s military wing.

A year and a half after the outbreak of the war (February 2002), Israel declared the group to be a terrorist organization. The United States and the European Community subsequently followed.

The Brigades recently signed a “Pact of Honor” with other terrorist groups operating out of the Palestinian Authority. The pact sets forth the relations between the various groups and their stand regarding the war against the Jewish state.

The pact states in its first paragraph that the “Zionist occupation of Palestinian lands is ongoing” and that the armed struggle “will continue as a legitimate, natural response.”