The Gaza-based Hamas issued a condemnation of the terrorist attacks in France. According to Fatah sources, however, in recent months Hamas operatives were responsible for attacks on the French Cultural Center in Gaza, affiliated with the French consulate there.
The French Cultural Center in Gaza was attacked twice over the past year, most recently in December, when unidentified persons infiltrated the site at night and planted an explosive device that detonated and caused extensive damage.
On December 17, East Jerusalem’s Al-Quds newspaper published an announcement by the Salafi jihadist organization Jund Ansar Allah, in which it took responsibility for the attack on the French Cultural Center.
The announcement stated, “The operation was intended to help the Islamic State under aerial bombings in Iraq and Syria by the international coalition of which France is a member.”
In a link to the announcement, a video showed masked terrorists planting the explosive device at the French Cultural Center. View video: (from 2:48)
Jund Ansar Allah was established in Gaza in 2008. It attacked IDF soldiers at Kibbutz Nahal Oz using horses booby-trapped with explosives. Hamas, however, arrested members of the organization and even killed its leader, Sheikh Abd al-Latif Musa, and his deputy Abu Abdullah a-Suri.
The arrested operatives were freed from prison a year ago following interventions from Qatar and Kuwait, which mediated between Hamas and the organization. Since then no unusual activity by the organization’s remaining members in Gaza has been recorded.
Fatah members claim that Hamas is behind the harassment of the French Cultural Center and that it fabricated the Jund Ansar Allah announcement to cover up its own actions.
About two months ago, explosives were planted outside the homes of about ten senior Fatah officials in Gaza. Hamas claimed that the Islamic State was responsible for the attacks, though to date, not a single suspect has been arrested.
Announcements signed by the Islamic State disseminated in the Gaza Strip include threats against writers and intellectuals living there and declarations supporting the imposition of Sharia law.
Over the weekend, threatening letters were sent to four ministers of the National Unity Government and to governmental spokesman, Dr. Ayhav Basisou, all of whom reside in Gaza. An explosive charge was also set off beside a bank in downtown Gaza City, and security cameras of another bank in the town of Dir al-Balach were shattered.
Hamas asserts that these acts were carried out by Islamic State operatives. Fatah members insist, however, that since Hamas rules Gaza with an iron fist, it is behind these acts, and it attributes them to jihadist Islam in an effort to clear itself of all responsibility.