Islamic Jihad gunmen fire rockets
Photo: AFP

Gaza officials: Hamas the lesser evil

Recent rocket fire towards Israel attributed to individual extremists, many from Salafi movement

Hamas held a consultation over the weekend with other Palestinian organizations in Gaza following the recent renewal of rocket fire towards Israel. The last rocket was fired Saturday evening.


Currently involved in peace talks with Fatah, Hamas has been seen as reluctant to become involved in another conflict with Israel.


Therefore Hamas' security has been ordered to prevent rocket fire at all costs, and to bring violating parties in for interrogation, but the forces are not able to prevent all rocket fire, which is sometimes the product of the whims of a single cell comprised of three or four gunmen.


The gunmen also appear undeterred by Hamas' threats. A senior member of one such group said younger members see Israel as fanning the flames of conflict lately in Gaza and the West Bank while the organizations remain silent, and therefore take it upon themselves to fire rockets individually.


Much of the fire is attributed to Islamic Jihad, but the group does not claim responsibility because it is carried out by individual members.


Many from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) have been joining the Salafi movement, an extremist Islamic movement identified with global jihad and al-Qaeda. Members of the movement believe armed battle is necessary, and act outside of the political calculations considered by groups such as Hamas.


Gazans say more and more people are joining the Salafi movement, despite Hamas intervention. "These people see that the calm is leading nowhere, and that in return we are only getting more of the siege, more Israeli fire, more construction of barriers and more bombing of tunnels," one official in the Strip said. "Thus, they feel that there is a need to act and they do so despite Hamas' warnings."


A source from one of the other organizations in Gaza told Ynet, "Hamas will turn a blind eye even if we retaliate for the assassination of one of our people, but aside from momentary retaliatory fire no fire is accepted and there are arrests of rocket firers."


Detained members of large, well-known groups are generally released quickly, but members of the Salafi movement tend to remain in prison as they have no recognizable leadership to barter with Hamas for their release.


The source also claimed that aside from desiring calm for political reasons, Hamas had other reasons for wanting to keep the Salafi movement contained. Mainly, he said, the organization fears a battle for control of the Strip, especially during a time in which it must focus on swaying international opinion in its favor.


פרסום ראשון: 02.15.10, 10:24
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