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Hamas’ Control Over Gaza Threatened

Samara Greenberg

Ahmed Ja’abri, commander of the Izaddin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, recently sent a letter to Khaled Masha’al, Hamas’ leader in Damascus, warning that the situation in the Gaza Strip is “deteriorating” and that Hamas is losing control over the territory, London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported Saturday. According to the paper, Ja’abri told Mesha’al that “several worrisome explosions recently occurred in Gaza, security anarchy is extensive, and al-Kassam men are being killed.”

The letter comes after a series of explosions erupted near the offices of senior Hamas military commanders and of Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyieh’s house. While no individual or group has taken credit for the attacks, Asharq al-Awsat reports that Hamas leadership in Gaza believes radical jihadi Islamist movements are to blame.

Jihadi Salafis, militants who preach an ultraconservative form of Islam, oppose Hamas for not imposing Islamic law in Gaza, and for largely sticking to a tactical truce with Israel. “We will not stop targeting the figures of this perverted, crooked government (Hamas), breaking their bones and cleansing the pure land of the Gaza Strip of these abominations,” said the Soldiers of the Monotheism Brigades, one Jihadi Salafi group in Gaza. Last month, The Associated Press reported that Jihadi Salafis’ appeal is growing among Gazans.

Hamas has rejected all reports, saying: “These are baseless accusations and libel committed by a number of news agencies. This is another attempt by internet sites to degrade Hamas, shake stability in the Gaza Strip, and create confusion in the media.” Ironically, Hamas and Israel are now finding themselves on the same side of the war against this growing group of militant Islamists.