A shootout broke out in Gaza City on Tuesday, as Hamas police tried to arrest a local Salafist leader said to be a member of a local affiliate of Islamic State (ISIS) and ended up shooting him dead as he reportedly attacked them.
Hamas's Interior Ministry spokesperson Iyad Buzum told AFP the Salafist man was 27-year-old Yussef al-Hatar, and that Hamas security forces went to his home in the northern neighborhood of Sheikh Radwan on Tuesday morning to arrest him for unspecified "illegal activities."
According to Buzum, Hatar tried to escape and opened fire on the Hamas forces as he fled, and then tried to detonate himself in a suicide vest but was shot dead before he was able to. Buzum also said the fleeing man "tried to booby-trap his house."
Inside the building, weapons including "explosive belts, explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades," were found by security forces according to Buzum. Pictures of the weapons were posted on the Facebook page of Hamas's Interior Ministry.
"Security forces barricaded the house and then intense clashes erupted," witnesses verified to AFP. Several of the witnesses identified Hatar as a member of a local group affiliated with Islamic State (ISIS).
Army of the Islamic State, an ISIS-affiliated group in Gaza, issued a warning to Hamas on Monday, giving Hamas a 48-hour deadline to stop its crackdown on them which has reportedly included torturing Salafists in prisons. It threatened that the "heretical" Hamas would face "consequences" if it did not comply.
ISIS and Hamas have already faced off in Gaza through several clashes, and those tensions seem only set to grow further out of control.
Early last month ISIS groups in Sinai claimed an attack against Hamas after the issuing of a similar warning against its treatment of Salafists in Gaza, and just days before that Salafists reportedly set off an explosive at Hamas's security headquarters.