IDF targets Salafists, blames Hamas

October 15, 2012
Sarah Benton

For previous post on Salafists in Gaza, see: Gaza blockade has created conditions for handful of extremists

This posting has 5 news items:
1) BBC 7 Oct: Gaza militants targeted in Israeli air strike;
2) AlJazeera 8 Oct: Israel strikes Gaza after Hamas retaliation;
3) Reuters 14 Oct: Slain Gaza militants were senior Qaeda affiliates;
4) Ha’aretz 13 Oct: Israeli airstrike kills leader of al Qaida-affiliated group in the Gaza;
5) Ma’an 14 Oct: Israeli strike kills 2 in central Gaza, 2 wounded;

Gaza militants targeted in Israeli air strike
By BBC news
October 07, 2012

Two Palestinian militants and several other people have been wounded in an Israeli air strike [on Sunday October 7th]
on the southern part of the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials say.

Israel said the attack targeted a small militant group thought to be involved in a cross-border attack from Egypt in June in which an Israeli was killed.

Palestinian sources told the AFP news agency the strike was in the Rafah area of Gaza.

A number of bystanders were hurt, the report said.

Two of the wounded were said to be children.

A Gaza medical official said the motorcycle had been travelling in a busy area of Rafah, which borders the Sinai peninsula.

In a statement, the Israeli army said it had targeted two members of the group Global Jihad, including Talat Halil Jarbi who it said was a “senior operative” in the 18 June attack close to Israel’s security fence.

Gunmen who appeared to have crossed from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula attacked a convoy of construction workers, killing one and wounding another.

Palestinian medical sources told the AFP agency that Talat Halil Jarbi had lost both legs in Sunday’s air strike.

The Israeli statement identified the second militant as Abdullah Muhammad Hassan Maqawai.

Israel strikes Gaza after Hamas retaliation

Tanks fire shells at Gaza Strip after Palestinian groups retaliate with rockets for Sunday’s deadly Israeli airstrike.
By Al Jazeera,
October 08, 2012

An Israeli tank fired at residents of Khan Younis, wounding four children and causing damage to buildings [Reuters]
Israel has struck targets in the Gaza Strip after Palestinians fired rockets at southern Israel in what they said was a response to an Israel air strike on Sunday that killed one person and wounded several others.

The Israeli army said it had targeted “Hamas terror activity sites and terrorist squads responsible for the rocket fire” on Monday, but gave no further details.

Gaza hospital officials said one Islamic Jihad fighter thought to have been involved in Monday’s rocket attack had been wounded by Israeli tank fire east of the town of Rafah.

Residents of the town of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip said an Israeli tank fired at the suspected launch area, wounding four children and damaging a mosque minaret and a water tower.

The armed wing of the Hamas movement and the Islamic Jihad group fired a volley of rockets at Israel earlier on Monday, a day after an Israeli airstrike killed at least one person and injured nine others, including children.

According to the Israeli army, Sunday’s air strike was aimed at two Palestinian fighters who were riding a motorcycle near Rafah when the attack occurred.

The Israeli military said the two men were members of “Global Jihadist” groups based in the Gaza Strip who had for years attacked Israeli civilians and troops and were also involved in weapons manufacturing.

The military named the two men as Talat Jarbi and Mohammed Maqawi.

Palestinian medical sources told the AFP news agency that Jarbi had lost both legs in Sunday’s air strike.

“In response to the injury of civilians in the most recent strike on Rafah, the Qassam Brigades and the al-Quds Brigades fired a number of rockets at enemy military positions,” Hamas’s Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades armed wing said in a statement.

It was the first time since June that Hamas had acknowledged launching rockets at Israel.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP news agency on Monday that a barrage of more than 20 rockets hit southern Israel early on Monday, causing very light damage and no injuries.

The remains of “19 rockets were found in the Ofakim area, specifically near the Eshkol regional council. All rockets landed in open areas, and one home was damaged by shrapnel,” she said.

The Israeli army says 470 rockets have been fired from Gaza this year, 10 in October alone.

Israel and Hamas, which governs Gaza, have mostly observed an unwritten truce since Israel attacked the Gaza strip, where the Israeli military offensive named Operation Cast Lead killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, majority of them civilians, including 400 children.

Thirteen Israelis were also killed, three of them civilians.

Slain Gaza militants were senior Qaeda affiliates

By Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters
October 14, 2012

GAZA–Two Gaza militants killed by Israel on Saturday were the most senior al Qaeda affiliates in the Palestinian enclave, and one had links to jihadi networks in Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, sources said on Sunday.

Hisham al-Saedni and Ashraf al-Sabah, who were killed by an air strike as they rode a motorcycle, were ultra-conservative Salafi Islamists.

Armed Salafis, while a fringe presence in Gaza, have been stepping up violence against Israel while at times clashing with the Palestinian Hamas government. They also operate in the neighbouring Egyptian Sinai.

Saedni and Sabah were leaders, respectively, of the Tawhid wa-Jihad and Ansar Al-Sunna groups, two Salafi sources said. The movements share al Qaeda’s vision of global jihad and opposed the more pragmatic Islamism espoused by Hamas and Cairo’s politically dominant Muslim Brotherhood.

The men had recently merged their groups to form the umbrella Majles Shoura Al-Mujahideen (Holy Warriors’ Guidance Council), the sources said, becoming the de facto heads of the diffuse Gaza jihadi network.

“Their blood will be a light to guide the holy warriors through the right path and will be fire that will burn the Jews,” one of the sources told Reuters, saying reprisals would not be limited to the short-range rocket launches that are Gaza militants’ favoured mode of attack on Israel.

The Salafi sources said Gaza-born Saedni, 47, had lived in Egypt and Jordan and had fought for al Qaeda in Iraq. He had been wanted by Egypt on suspicion of involvement in attacks on tourist sites there.

Israel said the militant, who was freed from a Hamas jail in August after 11 months’ locked up, had been behind a string of rocket and bomb attacks against the country and had planned to carry out a militant operation on its Sinai border.

“The Global Jihad is stepping up its efforts to target us, and we will continue to interdict it with aggression and might, in terms of both response and pre-emption,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli cabinet in Jerusalem on Sunday.

In a sign of Salafi assertiveness in Gaza, about 500 mourners attended Saedni’s and Sabah’s funerals on Sunday. Some wore the smocks typical of the al Qaeda bastions in Pakistan and Afghanistan but relatively uncommon among Palestinians.

Jihadi gunmen have raided Israel through the Sinai, a desert peninsula which has seen a surge of lawlessness during the political upheaval that has rocked Cairo since early 2011 including an August 5 massacre of Egyptian border policemen that drew an unprecedented Egyptian security sweep.

On Sunday, a separate Israeli air strike killed a Palestinian gunman and wounded another in southern Gaza, near the Sinai border. The military said the men – also targeted while on a motorcycle – had been planning to fire rockets into Israel.

In another incident, a rocket landed in Israeli territory but caused no damage, a military spokeswoman said.

Israeli airstrike kills leader of al Qaida-affiliated group in the Gaza

The IDF said attack was preemptive strike against impending rocket launches by Global Jihad militants; Palestinian sources say two killed in strike.

By Reuters and Haaretz
October13, 2012

An Israeli air strike killed the Palestinian leader of an al Qaida-affiliated group in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Hamas and medical sources said.

Gaza Medics said a second militant was also killed in the strike. The after-dark attack targeted the two men who were riding a motorcycle in the northern town of Jabaliya.

The interior ministry of Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, said one of the men killed was Hisham Saedni, also known as Abu Al-Waleed Al-Maqdissi, believed to head the Jihadist Salafi group Tawhid and Jihad (One God and Holy War).

Sources from Tawhid and Jihad could not be reached to confirm that Saedni was killed.

The group, rival to Hamas, has an Islamist ideology shared by al Qaida and sources have said that Saedni joined al Qaida in Iraq at the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

In March 2011 Hamas detained Saedni for 17 months and had freed him in August.

Last year members identifying themselves with Tawhid and Jihad kidnapped and killed a pro-Palestinian Italian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, in an apparent attempt to secure the release of Saedni.

An Israeli military spokesman could not confirm Saedni was the target of the air strike. A written military statement said the two men targeted were “terror operatives of the Shora Council of the Mujahideen, a Gaza-based Global Jihad affiliate.”

The same group had claimed responsibility for a rocket that was fired into Israel on Friday and landed near a house in the Israeli town of Netivot, causing damage but no casualties.

In response, a few hours later, the Israeli military launched three air strikes against what it said were “terror activity sites”. There were no casualties reported in those attacks.

A source in the IDF said that one of the militants was involved in the attack that took place on the Israel-Egypt border in June, in which a worker hired by the Defense Ministry was killed.

Saturday’s strike was the fourth such attack over the weekend.

A statement issued by the IDF Spokesperson unit said: “The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the citizens of the state of Israel or IDF soldiers and will continue to act forcefully and decisively against anyone who commits terror acts against the State of Israel.”

Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for any attacks launched from Gaza, which has been under the group’s control since 2007. An Israeli military spokesman said that about 40 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel in October.

Hamas rejects permanent peace with Israel and the two sides fought a three-week war in December-January 2008-2009. The border is tense, with frequent clashes.

A number of Jihadist Salafi groups have surfaced in Gaza in recent years. Unlike Hamas, they endorse an ideology of global Jihad and some accuse Hamas of failing to implement Islamic laws in the coastal enclave.

On Monday, the IDF struck a number of sites in Gaza in response to a barrage of rocket and mortar fire, for which the armed wing of Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

The rocket fire, which continued throughout the morning hours on Monday, was in response to the IDF targeting two Gaza militants – killing one of them and injuring 11 civilians – the previous night.

Israeli strike kills 2 in central Gaza, 2 wounded
By Ma’an news
October 14, 2011

GAZA CITY — Two men were killed and two others seriously injured in an Israeli airstrike on central Gaza on Sunday afternoon, medics said.

Israeli warplanes launched a deadly strike on a tuk-tuk vehicle in Deir al-Balah, Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma’an.

He said the casualties were all evacuated to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah.

Medics identified the victims as 23-year-old Izz Addin Abu Nuseira, and 22-year-old Ahmad Abu Fatayir who succumbed to his injuries upon arrival at hospital.

Israel’s army said it targeted a “terrorist squad” who had just fired a rocket from the central Gaza Strip at Israel, adding that a hit was confirmed.

The two victims brought Gaza’s death toll from Israeli airstrikes to 5 within 24 hours.

Yasser al-Atakal, 24, was killed in an airstrike on Sunday morning as he rode his motorbike east of Khan Younis, and another person was seriously wounded. An Israeli military spokesman said the men had been preparing to fire rockets into Israel.

On Saturday evening, Israel killed two top Salafi militants in a similar attack in the northern town of Jabalia.

The victims were identified as Hisham Al-Saedni and Ashraf al-Sabah, while a 10-year-old boy who was passing by the area was also wounded, a Ma’an correspondent said.

Hundreds of supporters gathered near al-Saedni’s home in al-Bureij camp on Sunday to mourn the Salafi leader, who was also known as Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi.

“The martyrdom of Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi will not end Jihad against the Jews, but rather open the door to more painful attacks,” Salafi leader Abu Huthayfa said during the funeral.

“We have been fighting the Jews and the occupation before the assassination of Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi, and after he was assassinated we will fight more viciously.”

Al-Saedni kept a low profile since his release from Gaza jail in September 2011. “The last period of the martyr’s life was very secret and I haven’t seen him for months even though I am his cousin and married to his sister,” al-Saedni’s brother-in-law Abu Muhammad told Ma’an.

The Tawhid and Jihad group headed by al-Saedni recently started to claim responsibility for militant attacks on Israel, leading al-Saedni to act cautiously and live separately from his children, Abu Muhammad said.

The funerals were a rare public display of Salafism in Gaza, which has provoked periodic crackdowns from the Hamas government.

In 2009, Hamas raided a mosque and killed 28 people after a Salafi imam declared an Islamic emirate in Gaza.

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