The leader of a radical Islamist group in Gaza has been blamed by Hamas for triggering a gun battle between his followers and police after he declared Gaza an “Islamic emirate”.
Abdul-Latif Moussa used weekly prayers in a mosque in the city of Rafah to rally members of the so called “Warriors of God”. The group is highly critical of Hamas which they see as not Islamist enough. When police raided the mosque, sixteen people were killed in the ensuing clashes and about 85 others injured. Hamas has ordered anyone belonging to the group to hand themselves and their weapons over to the Palestinian police and security forces, or risk legal prosecution.. In the past Hamas has cracked down on al-Qaeda inspired groups – the term “emirate” has been used historically by them to mean clerical rule across the Islamic world. Hamas has forbidden anyone except security personnel to carry weapons in Gaza.