Various sources are reporting on increasing tensions between Hamas and Islamic State (ISIS) supporters in the Gaza Strip. Last Tuesday, Radio Free Europe reported that the “flare-up” began when Hamas destroyed a mosque belonging to an ISIS faction;
May 5, 2015 Tensions are rising in Gaza between the Palestinian group Hamas and Jamaat Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya Fi Bayt al-Maqdis (The Supporters Of Islamic State In Jerusalem), a Salafist faction that considers itself loyal to the Islamic State (IS) group.
The flare-up was sparked on May 3 when Hamas destroyed a mosque belonging to the Supporters Of Islamic State In Jerusalem (SISJ) in the coastal enclave’s Deir al-Balah city.
SISJ responded to the demolition of the mosque by issuing a statement threatening to carry out actions against Hamas targets if the Palestinian group did not release several SISJ militants who were detained in Gaza last month.
A Twitter account linked to the SISJ tweeted on May 3 that they would give Hamas 72 hours to release the Salafist prisoners or face the consequences.
One of the individuals whose release SISJ is demanding is Sheikh Adnan Khader Mayyat, a radical Salafist whom Hamas says has ties to IS. After Mayyat’s arrest, sources close to the Salafist group in Gaza accused Hamas of fighting ‘mujahedin [jihadist fighters]who belong to the Salafist movement.’ “
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Last Thursday, Israeli media reported that Hamas has arrested dozens of Salafi-jihadists who are affiliated with Islamic State following a series of bombings which were reportedly carried out by the group in recent weeks. The Jerusalem Post report begins:
May 7, 2105 Hamas has 100,000 gunmen who are prepared to “liberate Palestine,” a Hamas official was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
The announcement came amid mounting tensions between Hamas and Islamic State supporters in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has arrested dozens of Salafi-jihadists who are affiliated with Islamic State, sources in the Gaza Strip said. They said the arrests came following a series of bombings, which were reportedly carried out by the Salafi-jihadists in recent weeks.
Earlier this week, Hamas demolished a mosque frequented by Islamic State supporters in Deir el-Balah.
Hamas said that the mosque was a tent, and not a concrete structure, that was used by the extremists as a meeting venue.
Islamic State supporters have accused Hamas of waging a massive crackdown on their men. They issued a warning to Hamas to release the arrested men within 72 hours or face the repercussions of its actions.
The Salafi-jihadists also issued a warning to several top Hamas security officials in the Gaza Strip who are responsible for the crackdown.”
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The following day, Israeli media reported that the ISIS group whose mosque was destroyed claimed credit for a mortar attack at a Hamas base in the Gaza Strip.
As the GMBDW reported last month, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement claiming that Egyptian counter-terror actions in the Sinai peninsula are being carried out ” for the benefit of the Zionist enemy.” As we noted at that time, the Egyptian Brotherhood statement is likely an attempt to divert attention from what has been the growing tension between Hamas and ISIS in Gaza. As one report has noted:
The repeated denial expressed by Hamas of the presence of IS members in the Gaza Strip seems aimed at rebutting the Israeli and Egyptian allegations of an IS presence in Gaza after its members fled from the Sinai Peninsula.