Hamas terrorists 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Hamas regime is struggling to maintain control of Gaza and keep Salafi
global jihadi elements under control.
Over the past several years, the
global jihadi camp has repeatedly tried to gain a foothold in the Strip, and
challenge Hamas’s rule.
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Palestinians affiliated with these groups have
fired rockets at southern Israel in defiance of temporary cease-fires declared
by Hamas, including, according to some reports, the two Grad rockets that
exploded in Ashdod over the weekend.
Such acts mean Hamas is unable to
count on cease-fires as a means of recuperating from damage inflicted on it by
Israel during rounds of fighting.
Unlike Hamas, the Salafi jihadi groups
are not bound by the constraints that come with sovereignty over a territory,
and believe in waging constant, unrelenting attacks on Israel. In fact, a global
jihad group was linked to one of the first attacks on IDF border patrols
following the end of Operation Cast Lead in January 2009.
pro-Palestinian Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni was abducted and murdered in
Gaza, in an al-Qaida-style attack.
The attackers released a video showing
their blindfolded and beaten captive, which was reminiscent of jihadi hostage
videos released in Iraq and Afghanistan, hours before he was
Hamas launched an immediate clampdown, arresting a number of
suspects in recent days.
According to a 2010 study co-authored by current
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Yoram Cohen, Gaza-based jihadis have
tried to solicit the support and recognition of the “official” al-Qaida network
of Osama bin Laden, but the terror organization’s central leadership has been
reluctant to provide its seal of approval, for the time being.
al-Qaida has long chastised Hamas for failing to look beyond Israel and link up
with bin Laden’s global war, it is also skeptical of the survivability and
ideological commitment of global jihadis in Gaza, the study said.
ideological rift between Hamas and al-Qaida revolves around the latter’s
condemnation of Hamas’s focus on Palestinian nationalism, which is viewed by
Salafi jihadis as a hindrance to their cause of establishing a worldwide network
of terrorists dedicated to the goal of a single caliphate.
2009, Hamas sent a strong signal to global jihad members, which was meant to
settle the dispute between them once and for all.
Moussa, who was a leading pro-al-Qaida ideologue of the Jund Ansar Allah group,
used a Friday afternoon sermon at his Rafah mosque to declare southern Gaza to
be an Islamic emirate – a first step in the process of establishing al-Qaida’s
goal of an Islamic caliphate. Hundreds of Hamas gunmen stormed the mosque,
firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at the building, killing or
wounding nearly everyone inside.
The raid was meant to show that
challenges to Hamas’s rule would be met with overwhelming violence.
the move has failed to achieve its aim, and the groups have resurfaced and
increased their activities in the Strip.
The IDF has periodically stepped
in and struck global jihadi figures in Gaza, for example the November 2010 air
strike on an Army of Islam cell, when the security establishment had felt that
attacks on Israel were imminent.
The Popular Resistance Committee in Gaza
has also been linked by some to global jihadi forces.
Lebanon, al-Qaida-affiliated groups such as Fatah al-Islam and Asbat al- Ansar
recruit their members from Palestinian refugee camps.
For now, Israel
appears to have chosen to see whether Hamas is able to enforce the cease-fire.
At the same time, it is preparing for the possibility that direct intervention
may be again required in Gaza.
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