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Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories

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Clash of Islamists the talk of Gaza

- Ibn Taymea mosque

Coming home on Sunday after a long day at work, there was still no rest. Several of my neighbours in Gaza were escaping the late evening heat of their apartments to sit outside our building chatting about the previous two days that had seen the bloodiest inter-Palestinian fighting in two years, between forces of the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza and gunmen of an al Qaeda-style group. It left 28 people dead.

Knowing I’ma journalist, and discovering that I had been at the scene of the clashes, down in the south of the Gaza Strip at Rafah, the neighbours started bombarding me with their questions. Most of them were confused about what exactly happened between these two groups, which both endorse Islam as a political ideology.

Some of them asked whether the clashes would have a backlash and whether they should keep a distance from Hamas police stations and even restaurants to avoid being blown up by followers of the Jund Ansar Allah (the Warriors of God), whose leader had been killed in the fighting with Hamas security forces.

Most of the neighbors did not condone the radical splinter group’s support of the use of force to impose Islamic law on Gaza’s community of 1.5 million people, nearly all of whom are Muslim. But some were confused over the religious implications of such clashes with Hamas, which also sees itself as a guardian of Islamic orthodoxy.