TEL AVIV — Hamas security forces arrested dozens of jihadists affiliated with Islamic State ideology in wake of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel on Tuesday evening, a senior jihadist told Breitbart Jerusalem.
According to Gaza-based jihadist Abou Baker al-Maqdesi, Hamas began a widespread operation since yesterday to arrest jihadists, mostly those who identify with the Islamic State. Maqdisi said that some of those arrested were released from Hamas prisons in the past few weeks after serving months-long sentences together with hundreds of jihadist prisoners.
One terror rocket was fired Tuesday from the Hamas-controlled Gaza toward the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. No damage was caused in the incident, which sparked the wave of arrests.
The Israeli air force responded to the rocket fire by striking Hamas positions in Gaza. According to the Palestinians, the Israeli air force struck one position in western Gaza City and another in the north of the Strip. Both positions belonged to the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the so-called military wing of Hamas.
Hamas-affiliated media claimed that three people were wounded in the Israeli airstrikes.
According to al-Maqdesi, the arrests carried out by Hamas began immediately after the rocket fire and before the Israeli retaliation. However, the jihadist refused to identify or give any personal details regarding those purportedly arrested or their precise number. Al-Maqdesi added that Hamas security forces increased deployment along the border with Israel after the rocket fire in order to prevent any further launches.
Hundreds of IS-affiliated jihadists are said to be imprisoned in Hamas facilities as part of the contention between Hamas and the jihadists and Hamas’ efforts to improve relations with Egypt, feeding tensions between Hamas and IS fighters in Sinai.
As the arrests continued, Hamas condemned the Israeli strikes in Gaza.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, “The Gaza Strip won’t continue to be a testing ground for Israeli weapons,” and claimed that Israel “bears responsibility for the attacks and their implications.”
Barhoum’s comment about Israeli responsibility came in response to reports in the Gaza Strip that the Israeli planes that struck in Gaza were brand-new F-35s Israel recently received from the U.S. The Israeli army did not specify in its statements which aircraft had been deployed in the strikes.