Conflicts loom between Hamas, Jihadi Salafists

12:21, March 07, 2010      

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Gaza observers said on Saturday that the recent mysterious blasts in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip showed unseen conflicts between Islamic Hamas movement and other Islamic extremist groups, better known as the "Jihadi Salafists," pointing out it might turn into violence.

The Jihadi Salafists in the Gaza Strip are several radical groups, which are underground and act secretly, and once claimed responsibility of firing homemade rockets from the enclave at the southern Israel.

RECENT TENSIONS

The Jihadi Salafists and Hamas had recently traded accusations through leaflets and communiques and Hamas security forces have been carrying out campaigns to arrest leaders and members of these groups.

The costal enclave, which has been under a tight Israeli blockade for three years, recently witnessed a series of anonymous explosions, the most serious one occurred near the house of deposed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haneya in western Gaza city.

The blasts had also targeted Hamas police stations, cars of interior security officers, cafes and hairdressing stores. Hamas had directly accused the Jihadi Salafists of being behind the attacks.

However, the Jihadi Salafists denied in a series of leaflets their responsibilities of the latest blasts in Gaza, saying these bombings are related to internal conflict between commanders of Hamas armed wing Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades.

Abu al-Bara'a al-Masri, a spokesman of the Jihadi Salafists, said in a leaflet sent to reporters that "The recent explosions in Gaza were not our responsibility, because we have no interests in such acts."

Following the increased blasts and ongoing arrests, observers expressed concerns that the conflict between the two sides might mount in the future and turn into violence in the Gaza Strip.

IDEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE

Ibrahim Abrash, a political science teacher at the Gaza-based al-Azhar University, told Xinhua that the recent tension and conflict between Hamas and the Jihadi Salafists is "based on faith and ideological backgrounds that might turn into systematic violent conflicts."

"The Jihadi Salafists are trying to fill the space of religion and Jihad, or holy war, which was neglected by Hamas, which devoted most of itself to the ruling of the Gaza Strip," said Abrash, adding "but Hamas rejects this and insists to mix ruling the state and Jihad together."

Although many Palestinians accuse Hamas of trying to Islamize the Gaza Strip by imposing the Islamic Law, the movement is also accused by the Jihadi Salafists of failing to implement the real Islamic Law in the Gaza Strip.

Abdullah al-Ghazzi, spokesman of an extremist Islamic group called "Jaish al-Ommah" or Army of the Nation, told Xinhua that the disputes with Hamas "are based on differences in the approach and ideas, not on positions, official posts or chairs in the authority."

Al-Ghazzi admitted there is tension between Hamas and the Jihadi Salafists groups, adding "it is because Hamas felt the approach of the Jihadi Salafists is threatening Hamas approach."

"If Hamas accurately implements the Islamic Law, we will be the first soldiers and servants in Hamas, but if Hamas doesn't implement the Islamic Law properly, we will have our own stance," said al-Ghazzi.

Meanwhile, Abrash believes that Hamas has been under a severe criticism of these radical Sunni groups, "because Hamas has accepted an unlimited ceasefire with Israel in order to give itself more time to govern the Gaza Strip.

However, Interior Minister of deposed Hamas government Fathi Hammad said on Saturday that "there is nothing in Gaza called the Jihadi Salafists as an international concept, instead, there are minor misled groups which we had already controlled and dismantled, " adding "Hamas movement is an intermediate Islamic movement."

Hamas have tried to avoid itself from carrying out attacks in the same style of al-Qaida, and it has previously condemned several bombing attacks claimed by al-Qaida in several Western countries.

Despite the ideological conflicts between Hamas and the Jihadi Salafists, Hammad said "Hamas still controls the Gaza Strip and our security forces are acting day and night to prevent anyone who poses a threat to the security here."

Source: Xinhua
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