Police in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip swarmed a mosque and arrested a prominent religious figure affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group this week.
Sheikh Yahya Mansour’s hand was broken by police during the arrest on Tuesday, while PIJ members and other civilians were wounded in the raid on Rafah’s Al Awda mosque, a PIJ stronghold, the Tazpit Press Service reported, citing eyewitnesses.
Unnamed Gaza sources told TPS that the raid was part of a broader strategy by Hamas to take control of mosques in the enclave and subjugate PIJ.
Mansour later claimed in a video that the Hamas members “wanted to kill me.”
“They beat me with chairs and objects that were in the mosque and I miraculously survived,” he said.
It was unclear exactly why Mansour was detained.
شجار إسلامي للسيطرة على مسجد العودة في مدينة رفح بين عناصر حماس (المهاجمة) وعناصر الجهاد الإسلامي (المدافعة )
لا حول ولا قوة الا بالله pic.twitter.com/LAPOWYjHfY
— Belal Hamdan (@BelalHamdan20) July 19, 2023
On Thursday, Hamas activists came to the mosque and hung the group’s flags outside the building, Channel 12 reported.
???? هذا المسجد اقتحمته عصابات حماس وضربت وطردت عناصر الجهاد الاسلامي منه .. ووضعت راياتها عليه ????
???? يعني اذا ما كنت مؤمن بالنبي حسن البنا .. ممنوع من الصلاة في المسجد ????
⬛️ قلة عقل وضلال من جماعة ابو صبري
???? مسجد العودة – رفح pic.twitter.com/L1Ami5qd0t
— محمد (@_G4Z4) July 19, 2023
“What crime did these Zionist dogs get up to?” PIJ said in a statement. “Stealing, drug trafficking, hoarding electricity, and all the crises in Gaza are not enough for them. They also want to kill the military arm of the Islamic Jihad that was on the battlefield for three rounds with the occupation,” they added.
PIJ and Hamas both fought Israel in an 11-day conflict in May 2021. Since then, PIJ fought alone in two rounds of fighting, in August 2022 and May 2023.
Hamas, the terror group that has ruled Gaza since 2007, cooperates with PIJ and other Palestinian terror factions on military matters under the so-called “Joint Operations Room.”
However, PIJ is also Hamas’s main rival in the Strip. The enclave’s rulers occasionally intervene when PIJ operatives attempt to fire rockets at Israel, to avoid violent escalations when conflict is not in their interest.