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Hamas Continues to Crackdown on Salafists

Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers have arrested several radical Salafists for "security and criminal rulers".
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/3/2013, 6:12 AM

Gaza Salafists wave Al-Qaeda flag during protest
Gaza Salafists wave Al-Qaeda flag during protest
AFP/File

Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers have arrested several radical Salafists, the group’s interior ministry said on Thursday, according to AFP.

"The internal security apparatus has arrested fanatics calling themselves Salafists, for security and criminal reasons. There were no arrests made for ideological or political reasons," a ministry statement said.

"Four of those arrested were taken in on suspicion of stealing rockets belonging to Hamas, and two others for causing an unspecified explosion that resulted in human and material damage," it added, without giving a total number of detainees.

The Mujahedeen Shura Council (MSC) Salafist group, one of whose members was killed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza City on Tuesday, said the jihadists were being detained for ideological reasons.

Salafists in Gaza -- who are considered more hardline than the Islamist Hamas -- have challenged the movement both over confrontations with Israel and the practice of Islamic rule, prompting it to crack down on them.

The Hamas government recently arrested several Salafists in connection with rocket attacks on southern Israel.

The MSC implicitly denied stealing any rockets, reported AFP, saying that IAF aircraft had targeted Haitham al-Mishal as he rode his motorcycle in western Gaza City on Tuesday.

Israel said Mishal was involved in an April 17 rocket attack launched from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, adjoining Gaza, which struck the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat, causing no casualties.

An unknown Salafist group had claimed responsibility for that attack.

Shortly before Passover terrorists in Gaza fired five rockets at southern Israel. The attacks are believed to have been connected to United States President Barack Obama’s visit. Hamas arrested Salafists after those attacks as well.

Earlier this week, dozens of Palestinian Authority Arabs staged a protest in central Gaza to demand the release of their Salafist relatives.