Hamas and Its Discontents

The Battle Over Islamic Rule in Gaza

Courtesy Reuters

Last month, Hamas security forces stormed the Ibn-Taymiyah mosque in the Gaza town of Rafah, killing a number of members of an insurgent Islamic sect called Jund Ansar Allah (JAA), along with the group's leader, Abdel-Latif Moussa. The violent clash was a reminder of the mounting difficulties Hamas has faced in consolidating its power in Gaza since Israel's military campaign there this past January -- as well as its resolve to suppress, even crush, any challenges to its authority. In recent months, Hamas has developed an increasingly acrimonious relationship with the various salafi groups in the Gaza Strip, and the battle at the Ibn-Taymiyah mosque marked a new low in this struggle. It is likely that from the ruins of the mosque emerged the Palestinian Islamists' first important martyr.

On August 14, Moussa and about a hundred of his followers, including armed men strapped with explosive belts, holed themselves in the

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