The militant wing of Fatah
that began in Balata refugee camp near Nablus in the northern West Bank
shortly after the start of the Second Intifada
. Though the group was not openly associated with Fatah early in its existence, in 2004 Fatah acknowledged them as its armed wing. The Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade has been responsible for multiple attacks and attempted attacks against Israeli
soldiers, settlers and civilians, most of them taking place between 2001-2005. The United States, the European Union and several other governments consider the group a terrorist organization. In July 2007, the Israeli government made a deal with the Palestinian Authority
(PA), under which 178 members of the Al-Aqsa Brigade were granted amnesty on condition they surrendered their arms to the PA, renounced future attacks against Israel
, and were absorbed into the Palestinian
security services. The number of gunmen granted amnesty increased later in 2007 and in 2008 pursuant to further agreements. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had been relatively quiet for a number of years until it claimed responsibility in July 2014 for opening fire on Israeli soldiers at Qalandia
checkpoint, separating Ramallah from Jerusalem
. See " Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade,"
Holly Fletcher, Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder, April 2, 2008; see also "Al-Aqsa Brigades opens fire on Qalandia, injuring Israeli soldiers
," Ma'an News Agency, July 26, 2014.