Violent clashes in Gaza, terror groups fighting each other

Islamic Jihad flouts orders from Hamas, which rules the Strip; threatens to strike Israel.

By Baruch Yedid, TPS

Senior Islamic Jihad and Hamas figures in the Gaza Strip have in recent hours denied media reports of violent clashes between the two terror groups and are trying to refute allegations of tensions between the major terrorist organizations in the Strip.

News has circulated on social media claiming that senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar said that “we will not allow any of the Islamic Jihad elements to take stupid steps by launching rockets [at Israel] contrary to the decisions of the joint command.”

Another news item on social media claimed that Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, had ordered to stop by force any attempt to fire rockets from the Gaza Strip, and local media reports added that jihadist operatives shot at the Hamas leader’s house.

However, a source in the Gaza Strip said that the media reports are exaggerated, and yet he confirmed that members of the Hamas security apparatus arrested a number of Islamic Jihad operatives who threatened to violate the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and fire at least one rocket at Israel.

In the Gaza Strip, it is said that Islamic Jihad has denied any connection to the detainees, apparently to prevent tensions with Hamas.

Sources in the Gaza Strip indicate that groups in the jihad’s al-Quds Brigades have left the operations room shared by all the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and are not accepting its authority to make decisions, which explains the statements by Mahmoud al-Zahar.

In an effort to deny the rumors, Islamic Jihad spokesman Tariq Izz al-Din said that “the news of a conflict between the brothers in the al-Quds Brigades and [Hamas’] al-Qassam Brigades is nothing but a fake rumor trying to create a conflict between the brothers in arms.”

Senior Islamic Jihad official Khaled al-Batash also said that “we are the two most powerful and armed military groups in the Palestinian arena, we are one body whose title is Resistance.”

On Wednesday, Islamic Jihad operatives mistakenly thought that a right-wing demonstration in Jerusalem, with Netanyahu as the main speaker, would take place on the Temple Mount and threatened to “cause Netanyahu to flee as he fled Ashdod, at the election conference two years ago,” when the terror group fired rockets at the southern city during his speech.

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A few days ago, it was reported that Hamas was preventing the Islamic Jihad from responding from the Gaza Strip to the IDF’s elimination of a three-member Islamic jihad squad in the village of Araba in Samaria over the weekend.