Anti-Hamas jihadists vow to fire rockets at Israelis
GAZA CITY - Agence Frence-Presse
AP photoJihadists in the Gaza Strip have threatened to fire rockets at Israel in response to a Hamas crackdown on extremists in the Palestinian territory.
The threat came in reaction to the arrest of militants suspected of targeting members of Hamas’s armed wing on July 19 with a series of bombings.
“The Salafists have decided to respond to these crimes and these blows dealt by Hamas by pointing rockets towards the occupation [Israel] and carrying out reprisals,” said a statement released online late on July 20.
Hamas police arrested a dozen “mujahedeen” after the explosions on July 19, which destroyed five cars.
The jihadist statement accused Gaza’s rulers of staging the blasts as an excuse to crack down on Salafist extremists.
“The results will be catastrophic, will benefit no one, and it will be Hamas who shoulders the responsibility,” it said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds Hamas responsible for any rocket fire at the Jewish state from the coastal enclave.
The military struck Hamas facilities in Gaza last week after militants fired a rocket into southern Israel.
Hamas is engaged in a power struggle with smaller extremist groups, including Salafists in Gaza, which is home to 1.8 million people and has been ravaged by three wars with Israel in six years.
On July 19, five near-simultaneous explosions targeted members of the armed branches of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Islamist group.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts that rocked an area in Gaza City.
A series of such attacks in recent months is suspected to have been carried out by Salafists, some of whom claim links with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, although experts have expressed doubts over whether there are any true ties between them.
Gazans who have gone to fight with ISIL in Syria recently released a video calling for Hamas to be toppled.
Salafist groups have claimed in recent weeks that around 100 of their members or supporters were behind bars.
They also criticize Hamas for what they see as its lack of zeal in enforcing Islamic law as well as for its truce with Israel since last year’s war in Gaza.