GAZA, (Reuters) – A pro-al Qaeda Palestinian group vowed on Friday to avenge the deaths of nine of its members in clashes with Hamas police earlier this month, unless the Islamist group declares an Islamic state in the Gaza Strip.
Jaysh al-Islam, or the Army of Islam, said nine members were killed in clashes with Hamas policemen on Sept. 16 when the Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip raided the compound of the militant Doghmosh clan.
“Revenge is a right that must be fulfilled,” the Army of Islam said in a statement.
The group said it would forgive the Hamas security men who took part in the raid if Hamas implemented Islamic law in the Gaza Strip and declared an Islamic state there, giving Gaza’s rulers a three-day ultimatum to meet its demands.
It urged Hamas to stop targeting its followers.
Hamas is an Islamist group that distances itself from al Qaeda.
While many Gazans have become more outwardly religious under its rule, Hamas has not formally imposed Islamic law on the coastal territory, which it seized a year ago after routing Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri brushed aside the threats and said the raid was in response to the killing of a policeman by members of the Doghmosh clan. “They want to impose extreme ideas on our people and we do not accept that,” Abu Zuhri said. “The Army of Islam is allowed to act against the Israeli occupation but it must stay away from internal affairs which is the job of the (Hamas) security services.”