Because dozens of IS suspects in past few weeks were arrested, supporters of the Islamic State in Beit al-Maqdis issued an ultimatum to Hamas to ‘release their prisoners or face dire consequences.’
A group calling themselves “Supporters of the Islamic State in Beit al-Maqdis” in the Gaza Strip issued Monday a 72 hour ultimatum to Hamas to release their prisoners or face “dire consequences.”
“Hamas and its security forces have 72 hours from the release of this statement to free all Salafist (jihadist) prisoners,” said the statement, adding that “all options are available” to free those prisoners and that “our soldiers are ready to act against chosen targets at the end of this ultimatum.”
On Sunday, Hamas forces arrested seven men along with a local Salafist Sheikh as they demolished a mosque which was reportedly being used as a hideout by IS supporters.
Following the release of the 72 hour ultimatum on Monday, a bomb blast targeted Hamas’s security headquarters in Gaza City , witnesses said.
The explosion just before dawn damaged the building’s perimeter wall, witnesses told AFP.
The security forces, run by de facto Gaza rulers and Islamist movement Hamas, were not immediately available for comment.
It was unclear if the statement and the explosion were linked, but radical Islamists in Gaza have issued similar threats in the past.
Hamas security forces arrested a Salafist leader last month, alleging that he was a supporter of IS, a group that holds vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.
Hamas, which is ideologically aligned with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, has previously cracked down on radical Islamists.
In recent months, there have been a number statements claiming minor attacks that were signed by “the Islamic State-Gaza governorate” but most were dismissed on jihadi forums.
So far, no Gaza-based movement has openly declared its allegiance with IS, experts say, although they say such claims show a desire on the part of local factions to be included in the IS fold.
They also point to a growing loss of control by the Gaza authorities and the growth of radical elements, who have become increasingly visible since last summer’s deadly 50-day war with Israel.
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