Police in Gaza, ruled by Hamas’ Sunni Muslims, broke the bones of several Shi’ite Muslims last week, a further sign of a break between Iran and Hamas.
Iran drastically reduced funding to Hamas this past summer after the Gaza regime did not back Iran’s support for beleaguered Syrian President Bashar Assad, a key ally of the Ahmadinejad regime.
Masked Hamas police last week beat a group of Shi’ite Muslims, a tiny minority in contrast to the overwhelming Sunni Muslim majority, as they were observing the end of the 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.
Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab Ghussein insisted that the police acted against "outlaws" who were planning "criminal acts," according to a Fox News report.
The Sunni-Shi’ite violence parallels deadly battles that have broken out throughout the Middle East the past years.
Despite Hamas being ruled by Sunni Muslims, Iran has had a vested interest in arming the terrorist organization and political party with money and weapons, placing Israel on the defense against terrorist attacks from the south and from the north. Hizbullah, also financed by Iran, has allied with pro-Syrian parties to become the dominant political force in Lebanon.
However, recent events, including the lack of Hamas support for Assad, have changed the relationship.
The attack on Shi’ite Muslims last week “is part of an attempt to limit Iranian influence in Gaza and indicates the end of a decade long relationship between Iran and Hamas,” according to the Strategy Page website.
Hamas was openly critical of Assad brutal suppression of Shi’ite Muslims, one of the reasons that Iran began financing Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in a power struggle with Hamas in Gaza.
“Iran expected Hamas to allow local Shia to seek converts among the Sunni majority,” Strategy Page stated. “Hamas has cracked down on that now, but Iran's new allies are pressured to encourage the conversions. Sunni Islamic conservatives believe such activity should be punished by death. Meanwhile, all this fuss in Gaza is also causing more friction between Hamas and rival Palestinian government Fatah.”