Archive for Rafah

Israeli air raid kills 4 civilians in Gaza

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, IDF, Operation Cast Lead, Pictures, Siege with tags , , , , , , , on 25/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 25 August 2009

Source: Press TV


israeli-f16-gaza-war-raid-deadIsraeli warplanes have attacked near the southern city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip killing at least four and injuring six other people in a second round of attacks since Monday. Palestinian security officials say Israeli fighters struck near the southern city of Rafah.

The victims were inside tunnels – which Palestinians say are used to import food, medicine and other vital supplies into the blockaded Gaza– when the Israeli air force bombed the area.

The impoverished Palestinian sliver has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007.

An Israeli military official says the air-raid was in response to the firing of a mortar round from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

Palestinian mortar attack took place after Israeli soldiers on Monday killed one Palestinian and injured another in the town of Beit Lahya in northern Gaza, medical sources told a Press TV correspondent.

Israeli troops say that Palestinians were trying to approach them.

Israeli forces opened fire on the three young men in the al-Atatra neighborhood on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip.

According to none of the Palestinians were known to be members of any Palestinian faction.

The Israeli army says shortly after that incident three mortar rounds were fired from Gaza into Israel, wounding one soldier. The soldier was only slightly injured after hitting his head while seeking shelter.

The killing and injuring Palestinians is the latest violation of a truce signed after Israel’s massive military aggression known as the 22-day war on Gaza. Operation Cast Lead launched December 27, 2008.

During the massacre, the city of Gaza suffered extensive structural damage. Ensuing air strikes and ground incursions left over 1,350 Palestinians, at least 1100 of whom were civilians, dead.

An estimated 5,450 people were reported injured; most were women and children.

In addition to the human cost, the onslaught cost the Palestinian economy at least $1.6 billion, destroying some 4,000 residential buildings and damaging 16,000 houses.

UN reports confirm that Tel Aviv began the bloodshed by breaking the truce it had with the authority in the territory of 1.5 million Palestinians.

Press TV

Islamist fighters buried in Gaza

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Hamas, Israeli occupation, Pictures, Siege with tags , , , , , , on 16/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 16th August 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English


Hamas security forces cracked down on fighters from the little known Jund Ansar Allah group [AFP]

Palestinian families have held funerals for at least a dozen fighters from a pro-al-Qaeda group killed in a battle with Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip.

The funerals took place early on Sunday morning, with Hamas security forces keeping the public away from the burials.

At least 28 people have been killed since violence erupted in Rafah between Hamas and the little-known Salafist group Jund Ansar Allah, or Soldiers of the Supporters of God.

The fighting began after Abdel-Latif Moussa, the group’s leader, proclaimed “the creation of an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip” during a sermon on Friday.

He reportedly called for the territory to be governed purely by sharia, or Islamic law.

Mosque attacked

Moussa was killed in the fighting, apparently blowing himself up.

Hamas officials said one of his sons was also killed, along with an aide named Khaled Banat, known as Abu Mohammed al-Mujahir, a Syrian who they said was of Palestinian origin.

In video
Islamists killed after challenging Hamas

Hamas said six of its fighters and six civilians, including an 11-year-old girl, were among the dead. Over 100 people were injured in the fighting.Residents said the Ibn Taymea mosque where Moussa preached on Friday to a hundred or so supporters, some armed and dressed like Taliban fighters, was hit by grenades and Moussa’s house destroyed.

The violence in Rafah was the most serious inter-factional Palestinian fighting in the territory since Hamas seized power two years ago, pushing out the Fatah party of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

But in exerting its control on the Strip and battling the group, Palestinian analysts said Hamas was also demonstrating to the West its willingness to suppress radical groups.

Hamas is considered a “terrorist” organisation by the US and most Western powers shun the group, which won a parliamentary election in 2006.

‘Extremist’ groups

Jund Ansar Allah is one of several small groups in Gaza to espouse al-Qaeda sympathies.

“A number of these extremist groups have flourished over the Gaza Strip over the past two years,” Mkhaimer Abusada, a professor of political science at Gaza’s Al-Azhar university, told Al Jazeera.

“Some extremist Palestinian Muslim groups do not see Hamas as representing Islam, and they are calling on Hamas to represent Islam or they will take matters into their own hands as we saw in the past two days.”

Several Rafah residents also voiced disquiet at the Hamas response and said they fear reprisals.

“It is wrong for anyone to take the law into their own hands and impose Islamic law,” one man, who gave his name as Ali, said by telephone.

“But even so, people shouldn’t be killed like this. I don’t think this is the end. The fundamentalists will hit back.”

Jund Ansar Allah first made its presence known with a border raid against an Israeli base in June, when some of its fighters rode into battle on horseback.

Hamas crackdown on Gaza challengers

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Hamas, Israeli occupation, Pictures, Siege with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 15/08/2009 by 3071km

Written by: Jo Floto

Date published: 15th August 2009

Source: BBC News


Hamas – the group which controls Gaza – has clashed with a radical Islamist group, launching a raid on a mosque in which its spiritual leader died. The BBC’s Jo Floto in Jerusalem explains what lies behind Hamas’s actions.

Abdel-Latif Moussa surrounded by fighters at the mosque in Rafah, 14 August 2009

Abdel-Latif Moussa, Jund Ansar Allah’s spiritual leader, died in a Hamas raid

There were reports coming from Gaza this week that Hamas was losing patience with the Jund Ansar Allah – or Soldiers of the Followers of God.

An unsuccessful attempt was apparently made to detain the military commander of the group, a man going by the nickname of Abu Adbullah al-Muhajir.

Hamas security men approached him as he was leaving a mosque in Rafah. According to a source close to Hamas, Muhajir and his bodyguards threatened to detonate explosive belts they were wearing, and escaped.

The group let it be known that this Friday its spiritual leader, Abdul Latif Moussa, would declare an “Islamic emirate”.

Hamas told the group to cancel the prayers, something it refused to do. Attempts at negotiation failed and Hamas decided to end the rise of Jund Ansar Allah.

Militants on horseback

The group came to prominence in June, when Jund Ansar Allah claimed responsibility for an attack on Nahal Oz, one of the crossing points from Gaza into Israel.

It was the most serious attack on an Israeli military position since the end of the Gaza offensive in January. The group used weapons, vehicles with explosives, and unusually, militants on horseback.

Name means Soldiers of the Followers of God
Member of Salafist movement, advocating return to the type of Islam practised at the time of the Prophet Muhammad
Wants to establish Islamic emirate throughout Middle East
Calls for strict enforcement of Sharia law, says Hamas is too liberal
Several hundred sympathisers in southern Gaza

The mounted attack was a failure. The Israeli army responded with machine guns, tanks and attack helicopters.

The material posted by the group on the internet is certainly inspired by al-Qaeda. It shares much of the iconography, language, music and discourse of other Jihadi groups.

In a recent declaration purportedly issued by the Jund Ansar Allah, Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, are mentioned by name.

The group maintains that a return to a purer form of Islam is needed and that Sharia law must be implemented, and rejects democracy as un-Islamic.

But although it is easy to draw the ideological and linguistic connection, it is much harder to establish whether the group receives direction, money or resources from elsewhere.

Given that Gaza remains largely closed off from the rest of the world, that would be difficult – although not impossible.

The smuggling of weapons into Gaza is almost entirely controlled by Hamas. The fact that the group appears to have been relatively well-armed would point to at least some of its members being former militants from other groups, including Hamas.

In terms of numbers, one source estimates about 300 men, based in Khan Younis and Rafah, at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, but it is difficult to know for sure.

Uncompromising message

The Jund Ansar Islam is one of a handful of radical al-Qaeda-inspired groups to have appeared in the Gaza Strip in recent years.

Map of Gaza

The most prominent of these until now was Jaish al-Islam, who participated in the raid which captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006 and claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of BBC’s Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston in 2007.

The groups may have been used as proxies by other militant groups or powerful clans, but all have managed to attract young Gazans with a more radical interpretation of Islam, and with an uncompromising message of how to fight Israel and its “Crusader” allies.

For those young men who have become increasingly radicalised in Gaza, the established parties and militant groups are seen to have failed.

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip two years ago, these groups have been seen as a challenge to its authority, and Hamas has stamped on them hard.

But dealing with them has presented Hamas with a real problem. Hamas’s full title is the Islamic Resistance Movement, and it faces opposition from within its own membership and support base if it cracks down too hard on groups for either engaging in acts of resistance against Israel or activities presented as Islamic.

This week Hamas decided that it had had enough.