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Gaza: Al-Qaeda-Inspired Groups Reject Hamas Amnesty Offer | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- Informed sources close to the salafi jihadist groups in the Gaza Strip affirmed that the Hamas Movement recently failed to impose an agreement on the salafi groups through which Hamas sought to disband these groups in return for issuing a comprehensive amnesty for them and allowing anyone of them to join the movement if they so wish.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that three of the most prominent leaders of the salafi groups rejected Hamas’s conditions after several meetings because of what they described as Hamas’s obstructionist conditions.

According to the sources, Hamas asked for accurate information on these groups’ sources of funding and who sponsor and stand behind them. Hamas’s aim was to disband them afterward, prevent the recruitment of people in them, especially if they are from Hamas, and stop any military activities by these groups whether against the occupation or domestically, such as the bombings that took place against shops and institutions in the Gaza Strip.

In return for this, Hamas said it would ensure the safety of these groups’ members and will issue a pardon for their leaders. It also offered to receive any of the salafis in its ranks.

However, the salafi trend leaders basically rejected the disbandment of any of these groups and informed Hamas leaders that they will remain an Islamic trend that resists the occupation. They set a condition that all their members be released from the Hamas prisons and the weapons that the movement confiscated be returned in exchange for only halting domestic bombings.

The story began when leaders of the Al-Qassam and Al-Aqsa Brigades intervened to mediate to end the crisis between the salafi trends and the deposed government following the incidents in the Ibn Taymiyah Mosque in Rafah about two months ago in which the groups’ leader Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi and others were killed.

On the night of the Eid al-Fitr, the leaders of the Al-Qassam Brigades and the internal security, in addition to other security officials, met with Abu-al-Mutasim al-Maqdisi (Mahmud Talib), Abu al-Walid al-Masri, and Abu al-Bara al-Maqdisi to reach a settlement that would be presented to the deposed government and then announced in the media.

According to the sources, Al-Jabari, who has good relations with Talib, played the role of mediator and was interested in reaching an agreement. Before the meeting, the salafi leaders asked for an official paper from the prime ministry and the interior ministry in Gaza containing an amnesty for them. The paper was secured, and Al-Jabari asked the salafi leaders to give themselves up and hand in their weapons and he pledged to ensure their safety.

According to the same sources, Al-Jabari agreed on the solution that the salafis proposed. The solution called for halting any armed action against any party in Gaza. However, the deposed government rejected the solution and insisted on disbanding the salafi groups.

The sources said that, shortly afterward, the Hamas security agencies carried out many raids to arrest the salafi leaders, including Talib, but failed to do so because they could not find them in the assumed places.

Elsewhere, sources in the Islamic Jihad accused security personnel of the deposed government’s internal security service of arresting and investigating a member of the Al-Quds Brigades, the movement’s military wing, after he was wounded during an operation to assassinate him in eastern Gaza on Friday.

The sources said that the internal security personnel beat up the Al-Quds Brigades member near the site of the shelling that targeted three of the Al-Quds Brigades members. He was a member of the group that was targeted by Israeli forces, but escaped, while the other three were killed.

The sources added that the Al-Quds Brigades activist was led to a military post belonging to the Hamas security in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood and investigated. According to the sources, he was asked about the military group, from where they brought the rockets, and where the Al-Quds Brigades rockets are situated. Afterward, he was allowed to leave for medical treatment on the condition that he return in a few days’ time to continue the investigation.

The sources said one weapon, a handgun, and a camera were confiscated from the scene of the shelling. According to the sources, this was the first time Hamas investigated the Al-Quds Brigades members on the places of weapons.

The sources added: “About one week before their assassination, the three martyrs, Mahmud al-Banna, Muhammad Murshid, and Kamil al-Dahduh, suffered an assassination attempt at the hands of the internal security personnel east of the Netzarim Settlement.”

The sources continued: “Martyr Al-Banna also suffered an assassination attempt more than two months ago at the hands of an internal security force when he fired mortar shells in the direction of an Israeli force in eastern Gaza near the Martyrs Cemetery.”

The Jihad sources say: “Hamas seeks to rule the Gaza Strip with an iron fist. It wants to determine when, how, and where rockets should or should not be fired. Also, it does not want people to oppose its rule.”

After a rocket fell near the (Ashkol) Kibbutz yesterday, an Israeli military source affirmed that from now on, the army will respond to every rocket fired with air raids and artillery bombardment and that it will continue to respond violently to any attempt to disrupt the calm that prevails in the kibbutzim that are adjacent to Gaza.

Yesterday, Israeli planes carried out a raid on the tunnels area in the border strip in Rafah, one day after a similar raid that killed two Palestinians. The raid came after a rocket fell near the military base in Zekim south of Ashqelon.