Jihadists took to the streets in Gaza on Monday to support the Islamic State terror group and condemn the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published an image of the Muslim Prophet on its new cover last week.
“Today, we are telling France and world countries that while Islam orders us to respect all religions, it also orders us to punish and kill those who assault and offend Islam’s Prophet Mohammad,” said one of the protesters, Abu Abdallah al-Makdissi, Reuters reported.
On the cover of its Jan. 14 edition, Charlie Hebdo featured a cartoon of Mohammed holding a sign saying, “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), with a headline above the cartoon reading, “Tout Est Pardonne” (All Is Forgiven).
According to reports, many of the demonstrators wore uniforms similar to Islamic State fighters and identified with various jihadist factions in Gaza. The jihadists gathered outside a French cultural center in Gaza and burned the country’s flag.
While the Palestinian terror group Hamas controls Gaza, there has been a growing number of Salafi-inspired global jihadist groups on the rise there.
Last year, leaders of one of the Salafi factions known as the Al-Quds Mujaedeen Shura Council in Gaza issued a statement pledging allegiance to Islamic State.
These Gaza-based Salafi jihadist groups have often been at odds with Hamas and have been targeted by Hamas’s internal security forces. At the same time, these emerging groups have been responsible for rocket fire on Israel, both from Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, as well as other terror attacks.