ISIS-Linked Jihadis Threaten Rocket Fire on Israel

Gaza-based Salafist groups threaten to retaliate against a Hamas crackdown on their members - by triggering war with Israel.

Arutz Sheva Staff , | updated: 5:21 PM

Hamas terrorist with domestically made M75 rocket
Hamas terrorist with domestically made M75 rocket
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

ISIS-linked jihadists in the Gaza Strip have threatened to fire rockets at Israel in response to a Hamas crackdown on Salafists in the Islamist-controlled territory.

The threat came in reaction to the arrest of terrorists suspected of targeting members of Hamas's "military wing" Sunday with a series of bombings.

"The Salafists have decided to respond to these crimes and these blows dealt by Hamas by pointing rockets towards the occupation (Israel) and carrying out reprisals," said a statement released online late Monday.

Hamas police arrested a dozen "mujahedeen" after Sunday's explosions, which destroyed five cars.

The jihadist statement accused Gaza's rulers of staging the blasts as an excuse to crack down on Salafist Islamists. While Hamas - an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood - is itself Islamist, it differs ideologically from hardline Salafist Islamists, who accuse it of compromising certain Islamic principles.

"The results will be catastrophic, will benefit no one, and it will be Hamas who shoulders the responsibility," the jihadists said.

As a matter of principle, Israel holds Hamas responsible for any rocket fire at the Jewish state from the coastal enclave, noting that as the de-facto rulers of Gaza Hamas has a legal obligation to prevent attacks from its territory.

Rival terrorist factions in Gaza have often used that fact to place pressure on Hamas, by firing rockets at Israeli civilians in an effort to drag Hamas into another potentially bloody conflict with Israel.

The IDF struck Hamas facilities in Gaza last week after terrorists fired a rocket into southern Israel - the latest in a drip-drip resumption of rocket fire against Israeli civilians since the end of last summer's war between Israel and Gazan terrorists led by Hamas.

Hamas is engaged in a power struggle with smaller extremist groups, including Salafists in Gaza.

On Sunday, five near-simultaneous explosions targeted members of the armed branches of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts that rocked an area in Gaza City.

A series of such attacks in recent months is suspected to have been carried out by Salafists, some of whom have sworn allegiance to ISIS, although the existence of operational ties with ISIS is more unclear.

Gazans who have gone to fight with ISIS in Syria recently released a video calling for Hamas to be toppled, in a sign of the growing tension between Hamas and its Salafist rivals.

Salafist groups have claimed in recent weeks that around 100 of their members or supporters were behind bars.  

They also criticize Hamas for what they see as its lack of zeal in enforcing Islamic law as well as for its truce with Israel since last year's war in Gaza.

AFP contributed to this report.