Gaza on Fire - Salafi Groups in Gaza to Join Forces to Confront Hamas

Written by Memri


June 3, 2008
Memri Dispatch 1946
A Call to Salafi Groups in Gaza to Join Forces and Confront Hamas

The June 2007 military coup in Gaza honed the differences, and intensified the tension, between Hamas, which is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the jihadi Salafi groups in Gaza, which identify with Al-Qaeda and its goals.(1) The latter groups, which include Jaysh Al-Islam and Fath Al-Islam in Gaza, have persistently called on Hamas to declare Gaza an Islamic emirate, to impose shari'a law fully and exclusively, and to launch a relentless and uncompromising jihad against Israel.

Hamas' refusal to comply with these demands has triggered a power struggle, with Hamas trying to repress the Salafi groups as the groups attempt to evade being controlled by Hamas and to pursue their own agenda. 
The Hamas Crackdown on the Salafi Groups in Gaza
Messages recently posted on Islamist websites by self-proclaimed Salafis in Gaza indicate that Hamas has been cracking down on the Salafi groups, presumably since it regards them as an obstacle to its achieving complete social, political, and military control over the Gaza Strip.
For example, a May 17, 2008 posting on the Islamist forum Al-Hesbah, by a forum member calling himself "Hafid Al-Farouq," stated: "A little while ago, [soldiers] affiliated with the Executive Force of the (apostate) Hamas raided the Al-Albani mosque in the Jabalya refugee camp after the afternoon prayer. The mosque, which follows the da'wi Salafi creed,(2)... [was raided] on the grounds that [its members] have been distributing leaflets inciting against Hamas.
"The raiding force wreaked havoc in the mosque... and confiscated property. Over 30 men and women attending prayers... were wounded inside the mosque, some by live bullets... Clashes between the Executive Force and those who rushed to defend [the mosque] are still going on at this very moment."(3)
A message by "Abu Ibrahim Al-Maqdisi," posted May 19, 2008 on Al-Hesbah, states that "the tyrannical Internal Security Apparatus of [Isma'il] Haniyya's dictatorial government has arrested a young follower of the jihadi Salafi creed in Gaza..."(4) The writer then threatens Haniyya's government: "Know... that we are advancing. Know... that we shall not abandon our sons in prison... Has the war between the [Muslim] Brotherhood and the Salafiyya begun? By Allah, we will not renounce our beliefs..."(5)

Salafis in Gaza: We Must Unite in Jihad "Against the Jews and the Apostates [i.e. Hamas]"

In an appeal to the Salafi clerics in Gaza, posted May 20, 2008 on Al-Hesbah, forum member "Safir Al-Khilafa" complained that the Salafi groups in Gaza are being persecuted by Hamas, and calls on them to unite in an uncompromising struggle against both Hamas and Israel. He wrote:
"My brothers the Salafi clerics in Gaza... What are you waiting for, [with Hamas undermining] the efforts of the faithful jihadi youths in Gaza? Do you want them to be arrested one by one, by the bootlickers of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza?
"Every day we hear of an arrest... not to mention the lack of unity... in the jihad against the Jews and the apostates. Every day some [Salafi] group [carries out] an operation of firing missiles [into Israel], or [sometimes] only issues a communiqué [claiming that such an operation has taken place], but then we hear nothing more from that group.
"This is [the case] with Jaysh Al-Islam, Fath Al-Islam, Jund Allah, Kata'ib Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi, Ma'sadat Al-Ansar and all the [other] groups that follow the Salafi jihadi creed...
"Oh jihadi Salafi clerics in the Gaza Strip... we beseech you, by Allah... awaken and unite, [for] the calamity is great... Why can't one of the sheikhs undertake to lead the jihadi youth? Where is Dr. Abu Bilal? Where are the Salafi Sheikhs of Rafah and Khan Younis...?
"My brothers in Al-Ikhlas, Al-Hesbah and all the [other] jihad forums, help us, the youth of Gaza, to unite all the [Salafi] groups. My brothers in the Global Islamic Media Front [GIMF], help us... to unite all the groups and to [ask] the brothers in Jaysh Al-Islam: Why do you delay in [carrying out] military operations...? Is there a shortage of weapons or people...? [No,] you have plenty of people and weapons... What you lack, however, is a divinely-inspired imam to lead all the efforts.
"I appeal to the administrators and members [of the Islamist forums] to promote this issue... until the fire of jihad starts burning in Palestine against the Jews and the apostates [i.e. Hamas]..."

(1) For a discussion on this tension, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 412, "Hamas: Between Liberating Palestine and Restoring the Global Islamic Caliphate, December 27, 2007, http://memriiwmp.org/content/en/report.htm?report=2489.
(2)  This probably refers to the non-jihadi Salafi creed.
(3) http://alhesbah1.net/v/showthread.php?t=180567.
(4) In the threaded discussion, Al-Maqdisi explains the young Salafi was arrested because he criticized Hamas and called its parliament an "illegal" political body. 
(5) http://alhesbah1.net/v/showthread.php?t=180551.

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