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Monday, 4 February, 2002, 13:46 GMT
Profile: DFLP
DFLP members
The DFLP mainly operates from Lebanon
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) was founded in 1969 when it split from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Led by Naif Hawatmeh, the group is believed to have roughly 500 members, and operates primarily in Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian areas.

Marxist-Leninist in its ideology, the DFLP believes that Palestinian liberation can only be achieved through popular revolution. Integral to this, it argues, is the overthrow of Arab constitutional monarchies.

The DFLP is believed to receive limited financial and military assistance from Syria and Libya.

Naif Hawatmeh
Naif Hawatmeh: DFLP leader
In the 1970s, the group began a relatively small scale campaign of bombings and assaults both in Israel and the occupied territories.

Its biggest attack came in 1974 when, disguised as members of the Israeli Defence Force, guerrillas infiltrated a school in Ma'alot shooting dead 27 people and wounding a further 134.

The DFLP continued its operations during the late 1970s, and saw a steady increase in its membership.

During this time however it became increasingly estranged from the executive of Palestine Liberation Organistion (PLO), aligning itself with anti-Arafat elements opposed to the peace process.

Hardline stance

The DFLP continued on a similar path into the 1980s. In 1983 it signed the Tripoli declaration rejecting the Reagan and Fez peace plans, and ruled out contact with Israel.

DFLP attacks
1974: Attacked school in Ma'alot; 27 killed, 134 wounded
1977: Implicated in bombings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
1984: Claimed responsibility for Jerusalem grenade attack; 21 people injured
1985: Attacked Israeli bus near Hebron in the West Bank

Five years later the DFLP was linked to a petrol bomb attack on the car of the then Industry and Trade Minister Ariel Sharon.

But after 1988 the group largely limited its military activity to sporadic border raids.

In 1991 the DFLP split into two factions, with one group re-entering the PLO fold, the other adopting a more hard-line stance.

This cell, led by Naif Hawatmeh suspended participation in the PLO, and strongly opposed the 1993 Declaration of Principles between Israel and the Palestinians.

Last Friday, the DFLP welcomed a French initiative aimed at restarting peace talks but attacked Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's subsequent rejection of the proposal.

See also:

04 Feb 02 | Middle East
Sharon defends secret talks
02 Feb 02 | Middle East
Militant group shuns Arafat
02 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israeli PM meets top Palestinians
01 Feb 02 | Middle East
Sharon condemned for Arafat remarks
25 Jan 02 | Middle East
US reconsiders ties with Arafat
20 Jan 02 | Middle East
Thousands demand Arafat's release
13 Jan 02 | Middle East
Arafat aide proposes demilitarised state
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