Gaza group denies Al Qaeda link after being defeated by Hamas

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

A small Palestinian group that challenged Hamas rule in the Gaza Stirp at the weekend has been defeated following street battles that left 24 people dead, including several Hamas "police" officers and the two leaders of the nascent Jund Ansar Allah, or Soldiers of the Partisans of Allah.

During a Friday sermon in the south of Gaza, the leaders of Jund Ansar Allah declared Gaza to be an Islamic emirate in a way similar to what Al Qaeda leaders have done in other countries. The group's followers then attacked Hamas forces, but were eventually defeated.

Officials associated with the group later denied any direct ties to Al Qaeda, though ideological and tactical similarities remain.

And while this one incident is now likely over, Israeli and Palestinian experts alike are warning that it highlights Gaza's further descent into a state similar to what existed in Afghanistan prior to the American-led invasion. In short, Gaza has become an incubator for the most violent of Islamic terrorist organizations.

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