Relatives of Salafist prisoners held by Hamas
Relatives of Salafist prisoners held by HamasAFP photo

Dozens of Palestinian Authority Arabs staged a sit-in on Sunday in central Gaza to demand the release of their Salafist relatives, detained in custody by Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers.

AFP reported that participants in the protest, mainly women and children, carried banners calling for their relatives to be freed.

"We demand the release of our sons from jail," a female protester who refused to give her name told AFP. "Why are they arresting them and searching houses and shops?"

"They banned us from visiting since they arrested my brother, who has been on hunger strike since April 3," she said. "We hold the Hamas government responsible for their arrest."

Salafist sources told AFP that Hamas is holding over 20 members of the hardline Muslim movement in custody.

The Hamas government recently arrested several Salafists in connection with rocket attacks on southern Israel. An array of jihadist, Salafist groups operating in Gaza have challenged Hamas both over confrontations with Israel and the practice of Islamic rule.

Salafist groups have claimed responsibility for a number of recent rocket attacks at Israel, including one on April 17 which was directed at the southern resort city of Eilat.

“The lions of the Mujahedeen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem managed to target occupied Eilat with two Grad rockets on the morning of April 17, and withdrew safely,” a statement posted on jihadist websites said.

Although Hamas, like its parent group the Muslim Brotherhood, is more observant of Islam than the secular Fatah faction, Salafi groups hold the ruling faction in contempt and hope to wrest control of Gaza from Hamas and install a Sharia-bound regime instead.

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.

Despite the arrests, the terror rocket attacks continue. On Sunday, terrorists from Gaza fired a Qassam rocket at southern Israel.

The rocket exploded in an open area of the Eshkol Regional Council, causing no physical injuries or damages.

On Saturday night, as Israelis celebrated Lag Ba’Omer around the bonfires, Gaza-based terrorists fired a rocket at southern Israel.

The rocket exploded in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. No physical injuries or damages were reported. Children who were celebrating Lag Ba’Omer were instructed to return to their homes.

Later that night the IAF struck a terror facility and a weapons storage site in southern Gaza.