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New Factional Violence in Gaza

August 19, 2009

Last Friday in Gaza, new violence broke out in Rafah during a clash between Hamas and an upcoming, radical Islamist group called Jund Ansar Allah (warriors of God).

While Hamas is considered to be a more nationalist brand of Islamic groups, Jund Ansar Allah is an armed, ultra-Islamic group that is ideologically aligned with Al-Qaeda–both follow the fundamentalist Wahabi sect of Islam.

Last Friday, members of the group barricaded themselves inside a mosque in Rafah and declared Hamas’ de facto government in Gaza illegitimate.  After that, Jund Ansar Allah’s leader, Sheikh Abdul Latif Abu Moussa, declared Rafah an independent, Islamic emirate.

Taking this as a challenge to their authority, Hamas reacted by attacking the mosque–killing Abu Moussa and 23 other members.

Remaining members of Jund Ansar Allah are calling on the group to resist arrest and to use force if Hamas tries to detain them.

“Hamas forces continued to pursue our followers in the Gaza Strip, ransacking their homes, but that will lead to nothing because our fighters will not hand themselves over.”

Hamas, which tends to use this statement against most of their enemies, has called the group un-Islamic and infidels.  It has also accused the group of being behind the recent string of bombings in internet cafes and hair salons.  Jund Ansar Allah has accused Hamas of organizing those bombings.

Hamas also claims that Jund Ansar Allah receives its funding through Israel or from Fateh’s former Gaza strongman, Muhammed Dahlan.  Jund Ansar Allah says, “all the financial aid comes from Sunni groups in Palestine and abroad as charities.”

Another Islamic group in Gaza, Hizb Ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), also wants to set up an Islamic emirate in Gaza.  However, the admonish both groups, calling the recent violence immoral and illegal.

“Killing and fighting will never be a legal means of establishing an Islamic emirate.”

Hizb Ut-Tahrir reminds both groups that fighting over power in Gaza is ineffectual–that there is no power to fight over in Gaza because it is under Israeli occupation.

“Those who rule have sovereignty dependent on what the occupation allows, and thus it is not possible to declare an Islamic emirate in a country under occupation.”

The group calls on all Palestinian factions in Gaza to “redirect their guns toward the occupation exclusively, and stop fighting each other.”

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