Salafi jihadist supporters in the Gaza Strip held another public demonstration against Hamas today. In recent weeks, Hamas has reportedly arrested a number of Salafi jihadists in Gaza. Some of those arrested are said to have begun hunger strikes to protest their imprisonment.
Today’s event was promoted on the Facebook page recently opened for relatives and friends of Salafi jihadists currently imprisoned by Hamas. A Twitter account recently promoted by the Facebook page also called on people to attend the protest, which was held in Gaza City.
During the protest, those in attendance complained that Hamas was holding their sons without charge and that Hamas was not allowing them to visit their sons. Others complained that they do not even know where Hamas is holding their sons.
While most in attendance held handmade signs condemning Hamas and calling for the release of their family members, others were seen holding al Qaeda’s black flag, which was first used by al Qaeda in Iraq but has been adopted by other al Qaeda affiliates.
According to Ma’an News Agency¸ today’s protest ended without any major incidents. The latest demonstration comes just over three weeks after relatives and supporters of imprisoned Salafi jihadists in Gaza organized a demonstration in Rafah “to protest the practices of [Hamas] against our righteous sons who are subjected to torture, humiliation and abuse.”
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 2012, 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 of 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, the MSC called on “the reasonable people in the Hamas Movement to pressure their government security agencies to release the Salafist Jihadist mujahideen who are held unjustly in their prisons.”
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