The Palestinian movement Hamas which rules Gaza has arrested two hardline Islamists in connection with rocket attacks on Israel, sources close to a Salafist group said Thursday.
The Hamas interior ministry, however, denied any arrests had been made for “resistance against the occupation.”
Hamas’s “internal security apparatus in the last two days arrested two mujahedeen. One was released after several hours. The other is still detained,” a Salafist source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The source said it was part of a “campaign to pursue Salafists after the targeting of Israel with rockets.”
A Gaza-based Salafist group claimed firing rockets at Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday that landed in open fields, causing no damage or casualties. In response, Israel carried out two air strikes, also without causing harm.
The Mujahedeen Shura Council said the rocket attacks were a response to the death of a Palestinian prisoner detained by Israel who died of cancer while serving a life sentence.
Interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan denied there had been any “arrests for resistance to the enemy (Israel),” saying such action would “not help national consensus [unity].”
The Islamist movement Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, has regularly cracked down on hardline Salafists in the territory, notably in 2009.
“Our security apparatus is part of the resistance and does not arrest anyone who resists the occupation. On the contrary, we encourage resistance,” Shahwan said.
The Mujahedeen Shura Council, meanwhile, urged “the rational-minded in Hamas to pressure its security to release Salafists” in a statement on Thursday.