Hamas and Islamic Jihad Struggle for Influence Over Gaza MosquesEdit
Jerusalem, 20 July, 2023 (TPS) -- Amidst ongoing tensions between Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a recent incident lays bare the animosities between the two Gaza terror groups.
The Tazpit Press Service has learned that on Tuesday, dozens of Hamas members took control of a mosque in the town of Rafah and arrested a prominent figure associated with Islamic Jihad.
Eyewitnesses reported that dozens of members of Hamas’s “Restraint Police,” stormed Rafah’s Al Awda mosque, which is considered one of the centers of power for the Islamic Jihad and a meeting place for its operatives. The Restraint Police are tasked with maintaining calm on the Israel-Gaza border by preventing demonstrations and rocket fire.
During the raid, Sheikh Yahya Mansour, who is responsible for religious activities in Rafah, was attacked and his hand was broken before being arrested. A number of Islamic Jihad operatives and civilians who tried to defend Mansour were also injured during the raid.
Gaza sources told TPS that the mosque’s seizure is seen as a strategic move by Hamas, aiming to take control of Gaza’s mosques and exert dominance over the Islamic Jihad.
One contributing factor to the animosity between the two groups is Israel’s military operations in Gaza in May, in which the Israel Defense Forces eliminated a number of high-level Islamic Jihad commanders in air strikes, and the IDF’s two-day incursion into the Jenin refugee camp in early July.
Hamas did not intervene during the May conflict, and sources inside the Jenin refugee camp told TPS that Hamas members in the camp refused to take an active part in the battles against the IDF in July.
“The relationship between [Islamic] Jihad and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is very close, but they are all at odds with the Hamas people who betrayed them like in Gaza,” one Palestinian said. The al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is aligned with Fatah.
A Palestinian Authority crackdown on both Hamas and Islamic Jihad in northern Samaria is further fueling tensions between the two terror groups. Arrests include members of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Lion’s Den.
“The PA received intelligence information according to which Jihad and Hamas operatives were planning to attack Palestinian Authority institutions and Palestinian government offices in the Jenin area,” a Palestinian official told TPS.
However, journalists, students and social activists expressing dissent against the Palestinian Authority have also been rounded up.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are threatening to boycott a conference of all Palestinian factions being hosted by Egypt on July 30.