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Hamas Permits Pro-ISIS, Anti-France Rally in Gaza

Hamas, which exerts strict control over the Gaza Strip, allowed a public demonstration in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to take place on the streets of Gaza Monday. The rally was to back the radical Islamist groups and to support the recent terror attacks in France. The Lebanese newspaper As-Safeer (Arabic link) reported:

The security forces of Hamas allowed a rare protest that was organized by Salafi jihadists in the Gaza Strip, in support of ISIS and the attacks by three Islamic militants in France.

One of the protesters, Abu Abdallah al-Makdisi, told Reuters:

Today, we are telling France and world countries that while Islam orders us to respect all religions, it also orders us to punish and kill those who assault and offend Islam’s Prophet Mohammad.

Reuters also reported that during the demonstration, Hamas police officers were deployed to keep watch on the protests as well as on the French cultural center, where the demonstrators burned French flags (video embedded below).

Some of the protesters held up posters of the the French Muslim brothers who killed twelve in the attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, as well as pictures of the terrorist who killed four Jews in a kosher supermarket in Paris two days later.

The crowd was also reported to chant, “You have to await more heroes of Islam, you worshippers of the Cross.”

Until now, Hamas has shown little tolerance for Salafi movements in the Gaza Strip, occasionally fighting gun battles with their members. The Palestinian terrorist organization even denied (Arabic link) any ISIS presence in the Gaza Strip itself.  But according to testimonies of various figures in Gaza, ISIS works with people affiliated with Salafi jihadi groups, some of whom have returned to Gaza after fighting in Syria (Arabic link).

A source inside the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza admitted (Arabic link) that most of the jihadi movements in Gaza are backing ISIS.

In addition, Hamas itself recently highlighted the threat ISIS imposes to Islamists, with a report concluding:

The spread of ISIS imposes a threat to the development of the Islamic phenomenon, delays the Islamic project and increases the obstacles faced to Islamists. Although the organization’s control declines in some areas, it is expanding in other areas. The organization is in an ongoing process of growth.

[Photo: Актуальные новости, Youtube CC 2.0]