Site of car explosion in Gaza City
Site of car explosion in Gaza CityReuters

The Hamas terrorist organization is waging a "secret war" against jihadist groups in an effort to purge them from Gaza, the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, Hamas is specifically targeting followers of the Islamic State (ISIS) and other Salafist groups, and has busted numerous jihadist cells said to be planning attacks against security forces and top officials.

Hamas officials told the newspaper that weapons, including long-range rockets capable of hitting major cities in Israel, have been confiscated.

The crackdown comes following the coordinated attack in Gaza City this past summer that left three Hamas policemen dead.

While Hamas initially blamed Israel for the two bomb blasts at separate police checkpoints, subsequent reports indicated that an ISIS-linked Islamist terror group was behind the explosions.

Gaza officials believe that members of these Islamist fundamentalist groups have been radicalized online, and aim to disrupt Hamas' grip on power in the coastal while seeking a broader confrontation with Israel.

Hamas has run Gaza for a decade but it has been challenged by small hardline factions, some of them inspired by ISIS, who say there should be a stricter interpretation of Islam. Some of these groups carried out sporadic rocket attacks into Israel.

Salafists in Gaza in particular have clashed with its Hamas rulers, challenging what they perceive is Hamas’s moderate interpretation of Islam.

In August of 2017, a suicide bomber allegedly linked to ISIS killed a Hamas guard in southern Gaza along the border with Egypt, in a rare attack against Hamas.

Hamas security forces later raided an outpost in Gaza belonging to the Popular Resistance Committees, which is close to the Salafist movement and affiliated with ISIS.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Yom Kippur in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)