24 Killed, Including al-Qaeda-Linked Cleric, as Hamas, Gaza Islamists Clash

Over 150 Reported Wounded as Hamas Forces Raid Mosque

Last Updated 8/15 12:15 PM EST

A significant clash erupted in the Gaza Strip today when the small Islamist faction the Jund Ansar Allah held a rally in a mosque, where leader Abdel-Latif Moussa declared the tiny enclave an “Islamic emirate” which would enforce Islamic rule, beginning in the border city of Rafah.

Hamas forces raided the mosque, sparking a battle which left at least 24 killed and over 150 wounded, including six Hamas members. Moussa was among the killed, and Hamas claims he took his own life. Hamas officials have criticized the group for being allied with other foreign militant groups (including allegedly al-Qaeda) and denounced them for “wrong thinking.”

Though Hamas is something of an Islamist group itself, it is also heavily invested in Palestinian nationalism, and has openly objected to the Jund Ansar Allah’s more globalist viewpoint. Jund Ansar Allah, for its part, has publicly condemned Hamas for obeying the seven month long ceasefire with Israel.

Jund Ansar Allah has also sought to establish a second “emirate” in Jerusalem recently and has repeatedly accused Israel of plotting to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque. The move in Gaza appears to be an attempt to rally more fighters to its banner, which would likely imperil the Gaza Strip ceasefire. It has vowed revenge against Hamas for the raid.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.