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Hamas and Islamic Jihad targeted in Gaza bombings

Five cars destroyed in early morning explosions amid growing signs of internal unrest in Palestinian enclave
Palestinians gather around a burnt-out car in Gaza City on 19 July 2015 after explosions destroyed five cars belonging to members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad (AFP)

Explosions on Sunday destroyed five cars in Gaza belonging to members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, witnesses and a security source said, amid tensions between the Palestinian territory's rulers and Islamist hardliners.

Medical sources told Middle East Eye that at least two people were injured in the five blasts.

The explosions went off in the Sheikh Radwan area very early in the morning. Three of the cars were parked outside homes linked to leaders of the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing. Two other cars belonging to leaders of the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, were in the same neighbourhood.

A security source said three of the cars belonged to members of Hamas and two to Islamic Jihad members.

One of the five cars that detonated early Sunday morning in Gaza city (MEE/Mohammad Assad)

Hamas security forces rushed to the location of the blasts and closed it off. Police announced they had started an investigation into the blasts.

"This morning, saboteurs exploded several cars of (members of) resistance movements in the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood, causing material damage," Hamas police said in a statement.

"Security forces have opened an investigation and are searching for those responsible. We assure that the criminals will not escape punishment."

Abu Mouin, a 35-year-old Sheikh Radwan resident, said he had been woken up at about 6am by a massive blast.

"We rushed down to the street to find burning car," he told MEE. "We were horrified, as no one expected this to happen during third day of Eid. It reminded me of the third day of Eid last year when we had similar bombings close to Sheikh Radwan cemetry." 

The attacks appear to be the first coordinated effort to target both Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders. 

According to local media, the acronym for the Islamic State (IS) group in Arabic, Daesh, was spray-painted on a wall near the explosions, although the group has not claimed the attack.

The bombings come amid growing signs of internal unrest in the Strip, with Hamas engaged in a power struggle with smaller militant groups.

A spate of bomb attacks has targeted public buildings and officials as well as international organisations.

Rocket fire from Gaza into Israel has also been claimed by militants claiming links to IS.

Hamas has blamed both Salafi militant groups and the Palestinian Authority for previous bomb attacks in the coastal enclave, accusing them of undermining their security.

Salafi groups have been angered by a Hamas crackdown and claimed in recent weeks that around 100 of their members or supporters were behind bars.

They also criticise Hamas for what they see as its lack of zeal in enforcing Islamic law as well as for its truce with Israel since last year's war in the Gaza Strip.

Security forces cordoned off the site of the explosions as cleaners removed debris (MEE/Mohammad Assad)

Earlier this month, IS released a video threatening Hamas, condemning their "secular nationalist" discourse as opposed to one based purely on Islamic law.

In March, Hamas released videos of confessions obtained from men who claimed they acted upon orders from the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to spy on members of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The men were instructed to carry out attacks in the Gaza Strip and sow mayhem by blowing up cars.

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