June 10, 2015 There are two conflicting accounts of how Younis Hunnar, a young militant Salafist leader in Gaza, died.
The official version recounted by Hamas officials, whose security forces killed Hunnar, is that the 27-year-old militant leader was caught at his house in the Sheikh Radwan area of Gaza City with weapons and a suicide vest.
Called to surrender, he instead attempted to set off his bomb vest and was killed in an ‘intense exchange of fire’.
A family member tells a different story. In this version Hunnar, a former member of Hamas’s armed wing – the Qassam brigades – who left two years ago to join a new faction notionally aligned with Islamic State, was hiding at home, fearful of being jailed again.
When Hamas security forces stormed his house he was wounded first, then shot with two bullets to the head.
Whatever the truth about the exact circumstances of Hunnar’s death, what is certain is that it has become emblematic of resurgent tension between Gaza’s Salafists and Hamas, which governs the coastal strip.
The conflict with the militant Salafists – totalling a few hundred at most – has led to a Hamas crackdown and, in reprisal, three rockets fired by the Salafists at Israel. This has in turn drawn air strikes in response, including against targets associated with Gaza’s ruling faction.
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In May, the GMBDW reported on increasing tensions between Hamas and Islamic State (ISIS) supporters in the Gaza Strip. The GMBDW reported in November 2013 that according to a report relying on unidentified “Palestinian sources”, Hamas had ended its crackdown on al-Qaeda aligned militias in hopes of securing financing from Qatar.
For more on Hamas, go here.