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Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (2)

Description: Set against a red background is a five-pointed red star with a white border. Within the star is a black map of Israel and the Palestinian territories, framed by two olive branches. Above the star is a black, white and green arc.

Explanation: The red background is reminiscent of the red flag that was used by many leftist revolutionary groups. Similarly, the red star, which was used as a symbol for communism and the Soviet Union, refers to the group’s foundation in Marxism. The map of Israel and the Palestinian territories within the star depicts the DFLP’s primary geographical location, as well as its original goal to establish one state for Arabs and Jews in that region. The olive branches framing the map represent reconciliation and victory. The black, white and green arc, coupled with the red background, denote the four colors of the Palestinian flag.

Name Variations | Overview | Focus of Operations | Major Attacks | Leaders | Ideology | Goals | Methods | Sponsors | U.S.- Related Activities

Name Variations

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine – Hawatmeh Faction, Red Star Forces, Red Battalions


The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) is a leftist group that seeks to create a separate Palestinian state based on Israel’s borders before the Six Day War in 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital. Founded in 1969 by Nayef Hawatmeh as the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group’s name was changed to the DFLP in August 1974. The DFLP, which holds that Palestinian national goals can be achieved through a revolution of the lower classes, originally advocated for the creation of a singular, bi-national state for both Arabs and Jews west of the Jordan River. It later introduced the idea of a two-state solution, a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel, to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The DFLP has carried out terrorist attacks against Israelis within Israel and the Palestinian territories, including a siege on a school in northern Israel that killed 27 people, 22 of them students, in 1974. The group ceased its military operations against Israel in 1987 with the onset of the Palestinian Intifada. The DFLP largely refrained from terrorist attacks during the 1990s, during which time it rejected the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the Oslo Accords. Resuming terrorist attacks against Israelis during the second Intifada, the DFLP now functions as a social and political body operating in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as in Gaza and the West Bank.

Focus of Operations

West Bank, Gaza, Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan

Major Attacks



The DFLP, which was founded as a Marxist organization, espouses Palestinian nationalism.


The DFLP seeks to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel based on pre-1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital.


The DFLP employed paramilitary operations before redirecting its focus in 1987 with the onset of the Palestinian Intifada. The group has since conducted small-scale border raids into Israel and has largely confined itself to attacks against Israeli civilian and military targets within the Palestinian territories.


Cuba and the Soviet Union reportedly supplied the DFLP with arms until 1991. Syria has also provided financial support, training and safe heaven to members of the DFLP. In May of 2001, Hawatmeh and Syria’s defense minister reportedly discussed “ways of supporting the Palestinian uprising and resistance in occupied Palestine against the Zionist aggressions.”

U.S.-Related Activities