To punish Hamas, militant groups strike Israel

The Salafist Ajnad Bayt al-Maqdis group has reportedly claimed responsibility for launching at least several rockets at southern Israel, causing no damage or injuries, during evening hours on 25 May, in what marked the latest attack carried out by Gaza-based militants attempting to disrupt the tenuous ceasefire between Hamas and the Israel military.

After the attacks, in what displayed a remarkable degree of confidence in their current strategy, Ajnad Bayt al-Maqdis issued a statement indicating precisely what it hopes to achieve by “steering the compass against the Jews.” Whether the Salafist group proves capable of triggering a broader conflict between Israel and Hamas hinges on whether Hamas can quickly rein in the Salafist militants and prevent additional rocket launches from taking place.

As tensions continue to escalate between Hamas and ISIS-inspired factions in the Strip, the ruling militant group is likely to continue cracking down and arresting members in an effort to protect its own rule and prevent itself from becoming embroiled in a war with Israel it is not seeking at this stage.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the statement released by Ajnad Bayt a-Maqdis both claimed responsibility for the rocket strikes and vowed that additional attacks against Israel were coming. Most notably, the statement indicated that attacks against Israel were to punish Hamas for carrying out arrests of Salafists: "Today, we are renewing our rocket attacks against Jewish settlements near the Gaza Strip in order to avoid a war against Hamas, whose security forces have recently started arresting Salafist jihadists…We believe that this problem will be solved by steering the compass against the Jews, thereby preventing the negative repercussions of Hamas's oppressive moves against Salafist groups.”

To humiliate and attack

After their claim of responsibility, on Friday 27, at least one projectile was fired toward Israel from Gaza but reportedly failed to make it across the border, exploding instead inside of Gaza territory, causing no injuries. The latest attempt to hit Israel was reportedly carried out by the ISIS-linked Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade.

Whether the Salafist group proves capable of triggering a broader conflict between Israel and Hamas hinges on whether Hamas can quickly rein in the Salafist militants

Brooklyn Middleton

As Salafists continue to attempt to humiliate and attack Hamas domestically, it is also likely at this stage that no single group is yet strong enough to seriously threaten Hamas’s rule. As such, Salafists will remain inclined to intensify operations against Israel with the intention of having the Israeli Air Force (IAF) then retaliate against Hamas members and infrastructure – delivering blows to the militant group that Salafists are currently not capable of. Ultimately, the Israeli military will continue holding Hamas responsible for any attacks emanating from its soil, regardless of which faction carries out the attack.

While it remains in the militant group’s interest to prevent Salafists from launching rocket attacks, Hamas will also face pressure from its own hardliners to respond to Israeli strikes. The continued rocket attacks on Israel by Salafists elements, low-level as they may currently be, seek to disrupt the tenuous ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the success of that strategy proves more likely with each rocket strike.

Brooklyn Middleton is an American Political and Security Risk Analyst currently based in New York City. She has previously written about U.S. President Obama's policy in Syria as well as Bashar al-Assad's continued crimes against his own people. She recently finished her MA thesis on Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, completing her Master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies. You can follow her on Twitter here: @BklynMiddleton.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.