Hamas Denies Role in Gaza Rocket Attack, Blasting Local ISIS Group

Hamas says group behind rocket attack on Israel 'not dedicated' to fighting occupation.

Palestinian masked members from Hamas' military wing hold RPGs during a rally along the street of Rafah, Gaza Strip, August 21, 2016.
Adel Hana, AP

Hamas denied its role in Sunday's rocket launch at Israel and blasted the Gaza group behind the attack, saying they are not dedicated to the Palestinian struggle.

"A group not committed to the principles of the resistance to the occupation is behind yesterday's rocket launch," Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said Monday afternoon.

An organization in Gaza called Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis, affiliated with Salafist groups that identify with ISIS, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. The group has been known to fire rockets in the past as a challenge to Hamas, the Islamist organization that governs in Gaza.

Reuters

"Hamas is committed to calm as long as Israel refrains from aggressions toward Gaza," he said.

ANALYSIS: Risking escalation in Gaza Strip, Israel sends Hamas a strong message

Dozens of Israeli air and artillery strikes hit the Gaza Strip overnight Sunday and early Monday, reportedly wounding five Palestinians, after a rocket fired from the coastal territory struck between two houses in the southern Israeli town of Sderot.

A senior IDF official said the army largely targeted what they described as Hamas "infrastructure", in an attack they called "rare" in comparison to IDF actions since a Gaza war of two year ago.

"The attacks were out of the ordinary, but there is no intention to escalate the situation," the army official told Haaretz.

Salafi groups began to surface in Gaza in 2006 and have had a tense relationship with Hamas, which seized the territory from forces loyal to the Western-backed Fatah group in 2007.