So now, Israel has decided to isolate Hamas and try to push Palestinians away from the extremists. Guess what? There's something worse than Hamas: Salafism.
Salafists think Hamas are a bunch of chickenshit pussies. They have an even more strict, puritanical interpretation of Islam. Some guy named Osama bin Laden and a few cats in a group called al Qaeda are Salafists.
Salafists are said to be pouring into the Gaza, with the understanding that this is their moment. They bring with them the battlefield knowledge of Afghanistan and, especially, Iraq.
Uh oh. Think of Fatah as Democrats, Hamas as Republicans and Salafists as neo-cons.
In these theaters, of course, access to Israeli targets already is assured, and so the emphasis of the newly arrived mujahideen and a number of in-place Israeli Arabs seems to be to build a foothold from which Salafism can be preached and have a chance to grow among the populace.
There have been anti-Israeli operations conducted by Salafi groups in Gaza - such as the Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) - but the attacks have not been major, and the Salafis appear to spend just as much time fighting with their erstwhile Islamist colleagues in Hamas.
This is going to be one of those "you reap what you sow" kind of moments for Israel.
So far, Hamas has done what it can to keep the Salafis under control. They know the ultra-radicals are just waiting to take over Hamas’ position of leadership. “They are traitors,” Abu Mustafa says of Hamas. “Compared to us, they are Islamism lite.” […]
The group’s greatest sin, says Abu Mustafa… is its effort to bring Islam and democracy together. “Hamas represents an American style of Islam. They have tried to curry favor.” Which is not such a bad thing for Abu Mustafa and his Salafis. “Hamas is like a block of ice in the sun,” he says. “Every minute they get smaller — and we get larger.”