Gaza explosion (illustration)
Gaza explosion (illustration) Flash 90

Residents of Gaza report that an explosion occurred on Monday at the Hamas general security headquarters.

According to the reports, which were cited by Yedioth Aharonoth, the blast was the work of Salafists who are demanding the release of several Salafist prisoners being held by Hamas.

The Salafist group Salafist Trend on Saturday accused Hamas of torturing the jailed Salafists, and of monitoring and cracking down on other members of the group, threatening Hamas that they must release the prisoners or face consequences.

"Once again we ask the wise people of Gaza to stop the ongoing Hamas criminality and abusive detention of our brothers before it's too late," read the Salafist statement. 

According to the report Monday, a group of activists published an announcement before the blast, stating "we give Hamas 72 hours to release all the prisoners." It remains unclear if the group of activists referred to in the report is the same Salafist Trend group.

Last month Hamas arrested Salafists who it claimed contacted Islamic State (ISIS), which has been growing a presence in Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

In the Salafist Trend statement, the group said it "has details about what is going on inside the detention cells of the interior security service, including names of the criminal interrogators who torture and insult our people."

Other than the prison guards, it said it has the names of security officers it says are monitoring Salafist supporters and raiding their homes, warning, "those also won't escape punishment, sooner or later," in a threat to the Hamas security forces.

In the background of the Salafist position in Gaza is the rivalry between Hamas and the Fatah faction which leads the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Reportedly Fatah views the Salafist movement as a counter-force to Hamas and has been supporting it, given that despite a unity agreement last April, Fatah and Hamas have only escalated in enmity recently. Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza in 2007 after overwhelmingly winning in elections.

Aside from the Salafists, many in Gaza are feeling animosity towards Hamas over the organization stealing much-needed building materials, siphoning off the materials to build its terror tunnel infrastructure.