ISIS suspected in killing of 3 Hamas policemen in Gaza Strip

A Hamas health ministry spokesman first blamed Israel for Tuesday’s violence, but later deleted his statement on Twitter.

By World Israel News Staff 

Even as the Israeli government considers whether to launch a wider operation against Gazan air attacks on the Jewish State, internal tensions among terrorist groups in the coastal enclave appear to have resurfaced.

Two explosions ripped through police checkpoints in Gaza City late Tuesday, killing three policemen and wounding two passersby, according to Hamas officials.

The Hamas interior ministry said two people were killed from Tuesday’s first explosion. Scarcely an hour later, a second blast occurred across town on a main coastal road, killing another officer, it added.

It wasn’t immediately clear who was responsible for the attacks. But Hamas carried out a wave of arrests throughout the Gaza Strip of Salafists and others who identify with ISIS and other radical Islamist groups, Ynet reports on Wednesday.

The deadly blasts are viewed as reminiscent of previous bloody rounds of infighting between Hamas and even more radical Salafi groups, which believe that Hamas should be imposing more severe Islamic edicts on Gazan society.

Salafism is widely considered as the predominant ideology followed by ISIS, though the tactics of the two groups differ, such as the Islamic State ambition for a caliphate. “Salafis have not traditionally created the blueprint for such initiatives,” writes Jacob Olidort of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a U.S.-based think tank.

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A Hamas health ministry spokesman first blamed Israel for Tuesday’s violence, but later deleted his statement on Twitter. The Israeli military said it was unaware of any action in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh stressed that Gaza can “absorb” such incidents.

“We are certain things will be controlled and all sides involved in these bombings will be held accountable,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, mortar shells were fired at Israel from Gaza on Tuesday. Earlier in the week, rockets were launched into southern Israel, including one which forced concert-goers to run for cover.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is grappling with the dilemma of whether to react to the latest escalation of air attacks with a large-scale counter campaign even as Israel prepares for a general election scheduled for September 17.

Hamas has, at times, stated that it did not carry out air attacks launched from the Gaza Strip, as other terror groups have persisted with anti-Israel violence even as Hamas appeared to act as if its own interests were better served by refraining from firing at the Jewish State.

However, Israel has repeatedly stated that whether or not it actually carries out the attacks, Hamas bears responsibility as the ruling authority in Gaza.

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The Hamas terror organization has run the Gaza Strip since a 2007 coup that overthrew the Palestinian Authority.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.