Hamas police officers monitor the road as they set up a nightly checkpoint in Gaza City, May 5, 2015. (AP/Khalil Hamra)
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GAZA CITY, Palestine: Still recovering from a devastating war with Israel last summer, Gaza's Hamas rulers now find themselves confronting a new internal threat: jihadi militants who support ISIS and appear intent on provoking Israel in order to pressure and embarrass Hamas.While these Salafist groups are not strong enough to threaten Hamas, they are making life increasingly difficult for the ruling Islamist militant group. Hamas accuses them of being behind a series of mysterious explosions aimed at Hamas security posts, as well as recent rocket launches that have drawn Israeli reprisals and threats of tougher military action. A Hamas crackdown on the Salafists killed a wanted fugitive during an arrest raid last week, appearing to erase any hopes of reconciliation in the near term.Hamas has generally tolerated the Salafists since they emerged in Gaza a decade ago, though there have been occasional confrontations. In 2009, Hamas killed a Salafist leader who declared an Islamic emirate in the southern town of Rafah. Analysts believe there are about 1,000 Salafist loyalists – too few to pose a threat to Hamas but enough to cause persistent problems.Like many Salafists, Hunnor began as a member of Hamas' military wing.
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