Middle East: New jihadi cells multiply in the Gaza Strip

Gaza City, 8 Oct. (AKI) - A number of new Islamic militant groups committed to enforcing Sharia law have appeared in the Gaza Strip since the takeover by Hamas in June this year, according to Arabic TV channel 'al-Arabiya'.

"Sword of Islam", "Al-Qaeda in Palestine" and the "Islamic Army" are among the new groups to have emerged in Gaza since the June takeover and are seeking to impose Islamic Sharia law and stop young people from following "Satan".

'Al-Arabiya' says these armed groups are committing crimes and assassinations, with the aim of installing Sharia law in the Gaza Strip, now ruled by the Islamist Hamas.

On Sunday a Christian leader was abducted and killed, for allegedly preaching the evangelical gospel to Gaza residents.

In Gaza, there also appears to be a morality police, or "authority for the propagation of morality and the prohibition of vice," a name frequently used by Saudi Arabia's religious police and used by Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, to impose and respect Islamic rules.

Al-Arabiya says this new group has announced the beginning of its activities in the Palestinian entity, where it aims to "fight those who are being corrupted by Satan, and do not observe Sharia law."

One of their first objectives was to attack a singer while he left a wedding party, where he had been called to entertain the guests.

"We have begun our work in all of the Gaza Strip," says a pamphlet distributed in the city of Khan Younis, "We have already expelled from our area two men who were begging, and we have beaten up some youth who followed Satan".

The Gaza Strip, due to its geographical separation from the more secular and cosmopolitan West Bank, is considered to be more radical about Islamic issues than its neighbour .

Some sources believe Gaza's historical link with Egypt and its cultural, religious and geographical separation from the West Bank means it is more influenced by the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood.


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