Salafi-jihadis

A small number of different Salafi-jihadi groups formed following Hamas’s seizure of the Gaza strip in 2007. Some of these groups were formed by disgruntled Hamas members who had grown increasingly critical of what they saw as softening of positions towards Israel. Other groups were formed by clans as way a of gaining political legitimacy.

Salafi-jihadi groups have only a marginal presence and are held in a choke-hold by Hamas. Nevertheless, Israeli-imposed closures on the Strip and consecutive military offensives have radicalised them and helped create a fertile recruiting ground in Gaza. Although responsible for occasional rocket fire against Israel in defiance of the ceasefire between Palestinian armed groups and Israel, these groups have more often attacked Hamas, including through the use of suicide bombings and assassinations.

The four main active groups in Gaza are: Jaysh al-Islam, Jaysh al-Umma, Jund Ansar Allah. and al-Tawhid wal-Jihad. These groups are known to cooperate with Egyptian Salafi-Jihadi groups active in the Sinai.

Lebanon’s refugee camps have, meanwhile, seen the growth of Salafi-jihadist factions, most prominently Fatah al-Islam, which regularly clash with other Palestinian groups such as Fatah.