At least six Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Friday when Hamas police officers stormed a mosque that had been taken over by a group of Islamic militants.
The group’s leader had declared during Friday Prayer at the mosque that Hamas was too liberal and that from now on, Rafah, and soon all of Gaza, would be ruled by pure religious law. “We declare the birth of the Islamic emirate,” he said.
Hamas, an Islamist but Palestinian nationalist group that has ruled Gaza for the past two years, sent dozens of security officers to the mosque, where gun battles went on into the evening. Medics at Rafah Hospital said there were 6 dead and about 50 wounded, though some reports put the death toll as high as 16. At least one Hamas policeman was killed.
The rebel group calls itself the Warriors of God, and its leader is Abdel Latif Moussa, known to his followers as Abu Noor al-Maqdisi. He arrived Friday at the Rafah mosque with more than 100 followers, many with long beards and flowing hair and heavily armed, according to witnesses.
Hamas police and security forces followed quickly and set up checkpoints outside Rafah as the battle for the mosque continued.
Warriors of God is a Palestinian group based in Rafah, on Gaza’s southern edge, with an unclear number of followers. It apparently has its own smuggling tunnels from the Egyptian Sinai, allowing it to bring in goods and weapons.
Israel has alleged that some foreign veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been getting into Gaza, but Hamas authorities have dismissed those accusations, saying the issue was purely a Palestinian one.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Well that didn't last long..,,
[Muhammad preaching. Notice the dagger. Used for inflicting peace on his opponents.]
From today's NY Times -
It is just awful that Hamas has been attacked by Muslim fanatics. [snicker] One certainly hopes this conflict can be resolved without further bloodshed. [chuckle] It would be sad to see honorable people like Hamas hoist upon their own petard of Muslim zeal and violence. [guffaw] A few people seem to have momentarily lost sight of Islam being the religion of peace. [chortle] It is not as though the leader of the Warriors of God, Abdel Latif Moussa, is a megalomaniac who has declared himself emir of all the world, starting with the town of Rafah. [giggle] I am sure he has just been misquoted. [snort]