Islamic extremism in Gaza appears to be behind the Wednesday murder of a 62-year-old woman. The woman, Jabriyeh Abu Kanas, had been accused by neighbors of practicing witchcraft.
The accusations against her were reported to Hamas authorities, but were never proven. However, someone apparently decided to take the law into their own hands, gunning Kanas down at home in front of her husband.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights condemned the murder in an interview with Palestinian Authority media. The Center blamed the attack on “security chaos”.
Hamas has imposed several restrictions on Gaza residents aimed at increasing observance of its strict interpretation of Islamic law. The terrorist group recently barred women from smoking in public, and said that women's clothing stores may not have dressing rooms and must dress their mannequins modestly.
Hamas leaders have also brought back the death penalty for offenses such as drug use. In many Islamic countries, witchcraft is punishable by death as well.
Hamas is not the only group seeking to enforce Islam in Gaza. In recent years it has been challenged by Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), a group whose former leader, Abu Mustafa, accused Hamas of being “Islamic-lite.”
Army of Islam members and recruits to other Salafi Muslim groups have carried out a series of attacks in Gaza, targeting music stores, Internet cafes, summer camps at which boys and girls are allowed to mingle, and pharmacies accused of selling drugs that can be used for recreational purposes.
Salafi group Jund Ansar Allah has openly battled Hamas, as has the pan-Islamic group Hizb Ut-Tahrir. Both organizations support the establishment of a global Islamic Caliphate, and have accused Hamas of failing to sufficiently enforce Islamic law.