NPR logo Hamas Challenged By Even More Extremist Group


Hamas Challenged By Even More Extremist Group

In the Middle East, extremism seems to beget extremism which only begets more extremism.

That's one conclusion to draw from the current situation in the Gaza Strip where Hamas, which controls that territory, is being challenged by an Islamist extremist group called Jund Ansar Allah with even more radical aspirations than Hamas.

Hamas, the Palestinian nationalist organization, successfully challenged the older and less radical nationalist organization, Fatah to gain control of Gaza.

Now along comes a group called Jund Ansar Allah which has a pan-Arab world view and with its al Qaeda style sensibilities is even more radical than Hamas. The more radical group's challenge led to a violent clash today with Hamas.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reported the following for the network's newscast:

Speaking before weekly prayers today, the leader of a group called the "soldiers of the companions of God' announced the start of theocratic rule in the Palestinian territories and followed with a defiant show of arms.

Hamas forces surrounded the mosque where the speech took place and a bloody gun battle ensued. The clashes mark the most serious internal challenge to Hamas's rule in Gaza since it took over in 2007. The new militant group seeks to enforce an even stricter version of Islamic law in Gaza. It has criticized Hamas for observing a cease-fire with Israel for the past seven months.