Hamas Ends Challenge from Al-Qaeda Group
The head of the extreme Islamist Jund Ansar Allah (Warriors of G-d) terrorist organization blew himself up at his Gaza home on Saturday.
The explosion came during a ferocious clash between the Al-Qaeda-linked group and the ruling Hamas terror organization.
Israel has warned for some time that Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists have infiltrated into Gaza and are operating in the region, a charge that Hamas has vehemently denied.
The shooting started Friday in the town of Rafiah, which straddles the border with Egypt, when the Jund Ansar Allah declared an "Islamic emirate" in Gaza. The term is used by the international Al-Qaeda terrorist organization to mean global rule by Islamic clerics.
Some 100 members of the radical Islamist group were trapped in a mosque by Hamas forces firing automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). The masked Jund Ansar Allah terrorists returned fire, firing RPGs and automatic weapons of their own. Their leader, Abdel-Latif Moussa, managed to escape with his bodyguards to his home.
Hamas official Ihab Ghussein told the Associated Press that Moussa detonated an explosives vest he was wearing just after dawn.
"The so-called Moussa has committed suicide...killing a mediator who had been sent to him to persuade him and his followers to hand themselves over to the government," Ghussein said.
The fighting ended several hours later, Ghussein told journalists.
The Jund Ansar Allah is the group that was responsible for the terror attacks on internet cafes, wedding parties and music stores in Gaza over the past year, according to Hamas. The group seeks to establish a stricter standard of Shariah (Islamic) law in Gaza than that upheld by Hamas.
At least 24 were killed, including an 11-year-old girl and six Hamas "police officers," and 150 others were injured, according to Palestinian Authority medical personnel.
Also among the dead, according to Voice of Israel government radio, was Hamas commander Abu-Jibril Shimali. It was Shimali's Izz a Din al-Kassam terrorist faction that had organized and led the attack that ended with the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.