Rally in memorial of Qassem Soleimani in Tehran
Rally in memorial of Qassem Soleimani in TehranReuters

Hamas’ Internal Security Force on Thursday arrested Sheikh Majdi al-Mughrabi, an extremist Muslim Salafi jihadist, on suspicion of tearing down a poster of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani who was eliminated by the US this past January, JPost reports.

The arrest of Mughrabi, a resident of Rafah in southern Gaza, came hours after Palestinian Arabs posted on social media platforms a video and photos of a man tearing down the poster of Soleimani.

Mughrabi is one of the leaders of the Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired Palestinian Salafi group in the Gaza Strip.

The arrest comes ahead of the first anniversary of the elimination of Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

Hamas and Iran have restored ties that had been strained in recent years, as evident in the summer of 2017 when Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh thanked Iran for its "unlimited" support for the Al-Qassam Brigades and its contribution to the development of Hamas' military capabilities.

Hamas deputy leader Salah Al-Aruri has made several visits to Iran in recent months in which he met with senior officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, another indication that the rift is over.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh attended Soleimani’s funeral in Iran, a visit which led to serious disagreements within Hamas’ senior leadership.

While Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, 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.