On March 30, the Ibn Taymiyyah Media Center warned on its Facebook page that preparations are being made by Hamas to launch a mass campaign of arrests against Salafi jihadists in the Gaza Strip.
According to the warning, members of Hamas’ al Qassam Brigades are expected to partake in the arrests, which could begin as early as Saturday. The statement advised “our brothers and loved ones to exercise the utmost caution and care, and be on full alert.”
Last week, Hamas forces arrested two Salafi jihadists in Zawaida, raided the home of a member of the Popular Resistance Committees, and kidnapped a Salafi jihadist in Rafah. Press reports suggest that the two jihadists in Zawaida were connected to the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC), an al Qaeda-linked group that claimed credit for a rocket attack on Israel on March 21.
Salafi jihadists in the Gaza Strip have long complained about Hamas’ targeting of their members. In February, Abdullah Jihad al Ashqar (a.k.a. Abu al-Muhtasib al Maqdisi), an official in the MSC, slammed the arrests of Salafi jihadists in the Gaza Strip by Hamas. According to al Ashqar, after Abu al Walid al Maqdisi and Ashraf al Sabah, leaders of the MSC, were killed in an air strike by the Israeli Air Force in October, Hamas eased up its pressure on Salafi jihadists in the Gaza Strip.
In fact, in early December, Hamas reportedly released Abu Hafs al Maqdisi, the leader of a Salafi jihadist group known as Jaish al Ummah (Army of the Nation). But after a few months, “the policy of detaining returned, as did pursuing, kidnapping, and storming homes, and then capturing and torturing in the prisons of the so-called domestic security agency,” al Ashqar contended.
Last September, Hamas reportedly arrested over 20 Salafi jihadists in the Gaza Strip. In response, Abu Abdul Muhajir, a leading Salafi jihadist in Gaza, denounced Hamas for its “unjustified” campaign against Salafi jihadists. A couple months later, Sheikh Anas Abdul Rahman, an official in the MSC, similarly complained that “there is no relationship between the Salafi Jihadis and Hamas and its government, except for through security prosecutions and within prisons.”
More recently, Arabic press reports suggested that Hamas recently told Egyptian officials it was prepared to hand over Salafi jihadists accused of involvement in the Rafah outpost attack last August. Hamas denied the allegation, however, and also denied reports in the Egyptian media implicating three of its senior members in the attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers.
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