Tensions mount between Salafi jihadists and Hamas

Hamas Interior Ministry announced the arrests of six Salafists today. According to a statement released by the Interior Ministry, four of those arrested are accused of stealing rockets from other groups in the Gaza Strip. The other two are believed to have been involved in an explosion that had caused “human and material damage.”

It is unclear if any of the six are the two members of Popular Resistance Committees who were reportedly arrested by Hamas forces in Khan Yunis on April 30.

The Ibn Taymiyyah Media Center (ITMC), a jihadist media unit tied to the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC), slammed the announcement and said that those arrested by Hamas are in prison only because of their beliefs. The ITMC also called on Hamas to prove that those arrested had stolen rockets from other groups in the Gaza Strip.

Last October, the MSC released a 32-minute-long video detailing some of its rocket attacks against Israel. In the video, an official identified as Abu Usama al Muhajir denied that the MSC was stealing rockets from other groups in Gaza. “The rockets with which we pound the Jewish usurping enemy are either local or international, and as for the local, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, we have enough evidence that prove that we manufactured them,” al Muhajir said.

Today’s accusations are the latest in the ongoing feud between Hamas and the Salafi jihadist groups in the Gaza Strip, which has mounted since the targeted killing by Israel of Hithem Ziad Ibrahim Masshal, a well-known jihadist in the coastal enclave, on April 30.

On May 1, the ITMC released a statement suggesting that the Salafi jihadists believe Masshal had been set up by elements within Hamas. This claim matched that of an April 30 statement from a Facebook page for supporters of Salafi jihadists in Gaza, which said that it appeared Masshal had been offered “on a golden platter” to Israel by Hamas.

While Hamas officials have not responded to all of the accusations recently made by the Salafi jihadists, on Thursday Hamas’ Mousa Abu Marzouk denied claims made by Salafi jihadists that Egyptian intelligence officers have been interrogating imprisoned Salafi jihadists in Gaza. “There is no truth whatsoever” to these claims, the senior Hamas official wrote on his Facebook page.

On Thursday evening, at least one rocket from the Gaza Strip landed in the Eshkol Regional Council. It was the first rocket to have struck Israel from Gaza this month. The strike has not yet been claimed by any group.

Since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense, the vast majority of the rockets fired from Gaza have been fired by Salafi jihadists. In fact, according to Channel 10, Hamas has failed to replenish its rocket arsenal since the end of Pillar of Defense, which ended on Nov. 21.

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