Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- Sources within the Islamic Jihad Movement have described relations with the Hamas movement as “tense” to the degree that interaction between the two movements’ officials on a political level have ceased.
Another high-level source told Asharq Al-Awsat, “They went beyond all limits … They are acting like a government that owns Gaza, and now nothing is left between us except the media.”
The sources accused Hamas of escalation against elements of the Islamic Jihad on a daily basis through arrests, attacks, and raiding of the movement’s offices.
The relationship between the two movements have become strained, particularly after the Islamic Jihad accused elements of the Hamas Movement of raiding an Islamic Jihad office in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, destroying its contents–as the sources said–and arresting four of its members there.
This incident took place a few days after the Islamic Jihad accused elements of the “Gaza police investigations department” of stabbing and seriously wounding a member of the Al-Quds Brigades “because of activities he was conducting in one of the Khan Yunis mosques.”
The sources said that elements of the internal security service of the deposed Gaza government raided the office of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Khan Yunis last week, which cares for the families of martyrs and prisoners, arrested four office security men, and confiscated documents and files belonging to the movement. The Islamic Jihad regarded this as irresponsible behavior that affects national relations and an attempt to create internal tensions that would aggravate the situation in the Palestinian arena.
The sources added that leaders and members of the Islamic Jihad are complaining about the actions of Hamas. An Islamic Jihad leader, who asked to remain anonymous, accused leaders in Hamas of forming “gangs within the police departments in order to attack citizens, particularly those that opposed it politically.” He explained, “The recent incidents against members of the Islamic Jihad show that these gangs, which are protected by the government by orders of Hamas leaders, are operating openly without the Gaza government doing anything to stop them.”
The leader added, “What is happening on the ground is strange. When you go to a police station to complain, you find that those who receive you to record the complaint are the ones who attacked members of the Jihad … and still, no action is taken against them. The complaint case is closed without taking into consideration that they are police officers whose duty is to protect the people and not only members of the Hamas.”
Asharq Al-Awsat asked Khalid al-Batsh, a prominent Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip, about the two incidents. He said, yes, “they stabbed one of our youths with a knife and raided one of our offices in Khan Yunis and confiscated the “hard disk” from it … They have become specialists in the confiscation of hard disks. They also arrested four of our young men there.” Al-Batsh could not find an explanation to this Hamas escalation, and said, “I do not think they have made a decision on the political level. I think this is unlikely. But it seems they have become accustomed to clashes.” He continued, “They do not respect our distinctive characteristic, and we can no longer keep quiet.” Al-Batsh accused the Hamas security services of chasing the mistakes of others and said, “They are dealing with the people as masters, and no one is allowed to object.”
This is the second time that the Islamic Jihad has opened fire at Hamas within one month. The first time was when a clash took place in which two elements of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas, were wounded following a quarrel with an element of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, in the Al-Sabrah area, south of Gaza. Elements of the Al-Qassam attempted to detain an element of the Al-Quds Brigades, opened fire at him wounding him in the legs, and left him outside the Al-Shifa Hospital bleeding. The Islamic Jihad regarded this incident as a violation of all moral and religious values. Because of this incident, contacts on the military level between the two movements were broken off. Al-Batsh called for the need to activate and respect the coordination mechanisms agreed upon between the two movements, affirming that respecting the mechanisms of coordination and acting according to them is the real guarantee for the non-repetition of such regrettable and harmful incidents. He wondered, “Had they honored the mechanisms of coordination, such incidents would not have happened and matters would not have developed to this point.”
The interior ministry of the deposed Hamas government has admitted that the internal security service had raided the Islamic Jihad office, but said that the raid took place to free a person that armed men from the Islamic Jihad had kidnapped. Ministry spokesman Ihab al-Ghusayn explained, “Four Islamic Jihad members had kidnapped a citizen and questioned him in the Islamic Jihad office. The security forces arrested them for violating domestic security and the law.”
Al-Ghusayn confirmed “the arrest of the four Islamic Jihad members with the handcuffed kidnapped person to complete the investigation.” He denied that any of the contents of the office were confiscated or damaged. While the interior ministry underlined “the depth of the relationship with the Islamic Jihad, it expressed regret for the statement issued by the Jihad.” Al-Ghusayn said he finds it strange that offices for the welfare of the families of martyrs, as the statement said, are used for kidnapping and investigation operations.” Al-Ghusayn added, “The security services and the interior ministry are exercising their authorities, and will not allow any party to take the law into its hands and return us to the law of the jungle and anarchy.” He noted, “The recent incidents in the eastern region during which kidnapping operations were carried out by armed men of the Islamic Jihad demand that we consider what happened and bring those involved to account.”
Al-Ghusayn referred to “established coordination mechanisms between the resistance factions and the security services” and said, “Their door is open to receive any complaint, particularly with respect to the security and protection of the resistance. They are cooperating as much as possible in this respect, but they will not allow any unruly behavior by any group, no matter who it may be, on the Palestinian street.”