A local leader of the Gaza-based Salafi terror groups, who have expressed their allegiance to Islamic State, was killed by Hamas forces on Tuesday as tensions between the two terror groups continue to escalate in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian coastal enclave.
Hamas identified the slain terrorist as 27-year-old Yussef al-Hatar, a local leader of the Salafi extremists in the northern Gaza neighborhood of Sheikh Radwan, AFP reported.
According to Hamas spokesman Iyad Buzum, Hamas forces sought to arrest al-Hatar for “illegal activities,” but the terrorist fought back, firing at Hamas forces and attempting to blow himself up with a suicide vest. Hamas forces also found a number of weapons belonging to the Salafis, including “explosive belts, explosive devices, and rocket-propelled grenades.” Photos of the weapons were posted by Hamas’s Interior Ministry on its Twitter page.
Over the past month, Hamas has launched a widespread crackdown on Salafi extremists in Gaza, including arrests of several Salafi leaders and the destruction of a mosque belonging to them. As a result, the Salafis, who call themselves “Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem,” have vowed to launch more attacks on Hamas. The group launched a rocket at a Hamas base in southern Gaza last month, and also claimed to have fired a rocket at Israel last week.
The pro-Islamic State Salafi terrorists argue that Hamas, which fought a 50-day war against Israel last summer, is too soft on the Jewish state and has failed to impose strict enough Islamic laws in Gaza.