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Tempers flare between Hamas and Islamic Jihad

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Tensions are mounting between political leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad over the deaths caused by the latter’s rockets during the recent military confrontation with Israel in the Gaza Strip.

The confrontation began on August 5 and ended on August 7 with an Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire agreement.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad held a meeting on August 22 in Gaza City. The two movements said in a joint statement after the meeting: “The resistance will continue with great coordination between the two movements and all factions.”

However, according to exclusive information obtained by Al-Monitor from several personalities present at this meeting, tension was high during the meeting, where Hamas called on Islamic Jihad to financially compensate the families of civilian victims killed by its fallen rockets. inside the Gaza Strip.

The sources said Islamic Jihad denied that any of its rockets landed inside Gaza and denied any responsibility for it.

The recent clash killed 49 Palestiniansincluding 17 children and four women, according to an August 12 report from the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Another Hamas leader confirmed to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that his movement called on Islamic Jihad to financially compensate the families of the victims after Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, investigated allegations that local rockets landed in Palestinian areas and killed Palestinians.

The leader explained that the investigative team, made up of members of Gaza’s interior and health ministries, collected evidence indicating that Palestinians were killed by locally-made rockets. “The investigation team got their hands on shrapnel from rockets and local missiles that fell in residential areas,” he added.

He declined to comment on the number of Palestinian civilians killed by local missiles.

The Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation quoted an Israeli military statement from August 25 that said 180 rockets fired by Islamic Jihad during the recent escalation landed in Gaza and killed more than 16 Palestinian civilians.

The detailed army press release five Islamic Jihad rockets failed launches including one which landed near the Imad Aqel Mosque in the middle of the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip and killed seven Palestinian civilians.

Islamic Jihad denied the statement by the Israeli army. The group’s spokesperson, Daoud Shehab, said in a statement to Anadolu Agency on August 25: “These are false allegations by which the Israeli army tries to mislead the public. … These are blatant lies.

Although there is clear evidence to support the Israeli claims, Islamic Jihad’s denial seems at least in part an effort to avoid paying financial compensation to the families of the victims, at a time when it is suffering from a crisis. stifling financial. Its employees within its various media and movement institutions have been on half pay for years, leading many to quit.

No Palestinian source is willing to speak publicly about the issue of Palestinian deaths caused by locally-made rockets, as it is one of the most sensitive issues affecting relations between Palestinian society and armed resistance factions. These factions insist that the armed resistance enjoys the confidence of a majority of the Palestinians.

An independent Palestinian political analyst told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity: “As the largest armed faction in Gaza, Hamas feels that the people have lost faith in the choices of the resistance following the disappointing result of the recent confrontation, in which Palestinians were killed by local rockets and no Palestinian gains were made.

He explained that this lack of trust prompted Hamas to investigate the fighting and look into the issue of compensation for the families of the victims.

On August 25, Islamic Jihad staged several events in honor of the victims in Gaza, Damascus, Beirut and in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.

Hassan Abdo, a political analyst with sources in Islamic Jihad, told Al-Monitor that the events sent “a message of defiance to Israel, which is trying to undermine Palestinian confidence in the resistance and Islamic Jihad”.

Abdo explained that Israel, “which failed to confront the missiles of the resistance and prevent them from falling on its territory, now seeks to strike at the supporters of the resistance and to sow discord among the Palestinians who believe in the option of armed resistance”.

This growing tension between Hamas and Islamic Jihad threatens to lead to a rift, even as leaders on both sides still insist in their media statements on the need for their movements to remain unified and coordinated in the face of Israeli threats.