by Saud Abu Ramadan
GAZA, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Despite a calm agreement mediated by Egypt between Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, extremist Islamic Salafi Jihad (Holy War) militants haven't stopped firing rockets from the enclave at southern Israel in an attempt to drag Hamas into a war with Israel.
Minor militant groups, mainly the Salafis, never recognized the deal brokered in early 2009 and kept firing rockets at Israel until now.
Israel Radio reported earlier Sunday two grad rockets were fired at southern Israel, one of which caused severe damages to a house and wounded 13 Israelis. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but all indications said the Salafis were behind the attack.
Although Hamas and other prominent factions and militant groups expressed clear commitment to the calm with Israel, the Salafis refused to respect the calm deal and kept tit-for-tat attacks against Israel. However, Israel held Hamas responsible for the ongoing rocket attacks.
Israeli army officials, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, threatened that Israel is ready to carry out a second operation Cast Lead and reoccupy the Gaza Strip if rockets on Israel continue.
Aatef Odwan, a Hamas lawmaker in Gaza, told Xinhua that these Salafi groups "must understand it tries to drag us to a war we are not well-prepared for in the current time, therefore I believe that the Palestinian people won't accept such behaviors of the Salafis."
Adnan Abu Aamer, a Gaza-based professor and political analyst who is specialized in the Islamic movements' history, ruled out that Israel would wage another large-scale war on the Gaza Strip, adding that "right now, Israel is more concerned about the Iranian, Lebanese and Syrian issues."
However, "If the Salafis' attacks on Israel go on and kill Israelis, which will embarrasses the Israeli government, I believe that Israel will strongly strike the Gaza Strip," added Abu Aamer.
Although both Hamas and the Salafi groups are classified as Islamic Sunni groups, they differ in ideology. Hamas is an extension to the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood, which now rules Egypt and Tunisia.
The Salafis have non-Palestinian agendas, which link to religious and regional considerations that go to Afghanistan and other countries, Abu Aamer said.
Akram Attallah, another Gaza-based political analyst, said "I think the Salafis are firing rockets at Israel from time to time to force Hamas to stop chasing their militants and cracking down on them."
Salafi groups were accused of being responsible for the attack on the Egyptian border police in Sinai in early August, during which 14 Egyptian soldiers killed.