CAIRO (Reuters) – Islamic State insurgents threatened on Tuesday to turn the Gaza Strip into another of their Middle East fiefdoms, accusing Hamas, the organization that rules the Palestinian territory, of being insufficiently stringent about religious enforcement.
The video statement, issued from an Islamic State stronghold in Syria, was a rare public challenge to Hamas, which has been cracking down on jihadis in Gaza who oppose its reconciliation with the rival Palestinian faction Fatah.
“We will uproot the state of the Jews (Israel) and you and Fatah, and all of the secularists are nothing and you will be over-run by our creeping multitudes,” said a masked Islamic State member in the message addressed to the “tyrants of Hamas”.
“The rule of sharia (Islamic law) will be implemented in Gaza, in spite of you. We swear that what is happening in the Levant today, and in particular the Yarmouk camp, will happen in Gaza,” he said, referring to Islamic State advances in Syria, including in a Damascus district founded by Palestinian refugees.
Islamic State has also taken over swathes of Iraq and has claimed attacks in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.
Hamas is an Islamist movement that shares the jihadis’ hostility to Israel but not their quest for a global religious war, defining itself more within the framework of Palestinian nationalism.
Deemed a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union, and viewed by neighboring Arab power Egypt as a regional security threat, Hamas’s struggle against Islamic State-linked jihadis has not won sympathy abroad.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.