Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility in the name of its al-Quds Brigades. Al-Quds is Arabic for Jerusalem. The road to Jerusalem, in the minds of the thugs, is paved with dead cows and dead-anything-else that happens to be Jewish.
But actually the thugs are not that picky. Islamic Jihad is in the midst of an on/off blood-feud with the Hamas regime that currently rules chaotic Gaza. A few days ago, there were reports that an Islamic Jihad terrorist was shot dead by a Hamas policeman at a funeral of yet another Islamic Jihadist who in turn had been killed in clashes with Hamas police forces in Rafah (Gaza) two weeks earlier. During that funeral, dozens of Islamic Jihadists and children hurled stones at what are termed "Hamas police posts", "prompting Hamas police members to open fire at them" in the laconic words of a Palestinian source. (Got that? Palestinian Arab children throw rocks, so the police open fire.)
The deadly in-fighting is directly related to what Israeli communities unfortunate enough to be located near Gaza have to go through. The International Herald Tribune described it this way about ten days ago:
A pair of Islamic Jihad gunmen didn't like the idea of getting stopped at a Hamas police roadblock so they crashed through it — and set off days of gun battles that left two dead and several wounded.So... when you hear analysts and political activists speak about the Palestinian fight for independence, keep in mind that what that means, in the case of Islamic Jihad, is independence from their fellow Iran-sponsored, rocket-equipped, ideological brothers/rivals, the thugs of Hamas.
The recent clash in southern Gaza was a sign that the long-simmering rivalry between the Islamic militant movements — both backed by Iran and uncompromising in their rejection of Israel — is increasingly turning into confrontation.
Islamic Jihad is too small to dislodge Hamas, but it has repeatedly challenged Hamas' authority and tried to push the bigger group into confrontation with Israel through continued rocket fire on Israeli border towns. Islamic Jihad has also become a vehicle for dissent, providing a home to fighters from the defeated Fatah movement.
Hamas seized control of Gaza in June, and Islamic Jihad chafes at the Hamas claim to be the territory's sole ruler. "Hamas wants to control totally how everything is going and wants everything to be with permission from Hamas," complained Khader Habib, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza.
Both groups are now funded and supported by Iran and Syria, where their leaderships are based. But Hamas' closeness to Iran and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah is relatively new, and has irked Islamic Jihad.
Since the June Hamas takeover of Gaza, tensions between the two groups have intensified... Continued rocket attacks, especially on Gaza-Israel border crossings, have been Islamic Jihad's most effective way of demonstrating independence.
And we're caught right in the middle of it.