PHOTO: Aftermath of Gaza car bombs on Sunday
Ben Decker writes for EA:
Concern is rising that Salafist elements within the Gaza Strip, including those linked to the pro-Islamic State group Omar Hadid Brigade, will fire rockets into southern Israel.
The factions issued warnings of possible attacks following arrests of their members by Gaza’s security forces.
The Gazan leadership Hamas detained suspects after Sunday’s wave of five car bombings. Members of Fatah, the Palestinian party in charge of the West Bank, were also held.
The Omar Hadid Brigade has challenged Hamas’ control over the coastal Palestinian enclave in recent months, while also firing about 10 rockets into Israel. Despite attempts to negotiate a ceasefire earlier this month, the Brigade continued to carry out attacks against Hamas.
None of the rockets have caused casualties, but they have prompted Israeli retaliation against Hamas facilities and Gazan infrastructure.
The Brigade has emerged alongside the rise of the Islamic State’s Wilayat Sinai in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. While the tactical links between the two groups remain unclear, the namesake of the group, Sheikh Omar Hadid, suggests some ideological connection. Hadid was a leader in the early days of the Islamic State’s predecessor, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and he has been honored in the Islamic State’s propaganda.
Support for the Salafists in Gaza is still limited, but the prospect of further attacks has raised concerns for Hamas as well as Israeli and Egyptian authorities. As two suspects were arrested on Monday, a spokesman for the Gazan Ministry of Interior said it “would not allow any interruptions to peace and security in the Gaza Strip”.