Last updated: 26 June, 2013

Islamic Jihad reopens contact with Hamas

Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad has reestablished contacts with the Hamas rulers of Gaza, having severed ties after a commander in its military wing died from a police shooting, a group official said on Wednesday.

“Contacts were reopened between Islamic Jihad and Hamas after an agreement to form a joint commission of enquiry on the death of Raed Jundiya,” spokesman Dawud Shihab told AFP.

He said he hoped the air would be cleared between the two Islamist groups “after the fallout from Jundiya’s killing has been dealt with.”

Jundiya, a 38-year-old commander in the Al-Quds Brigades, died from wounds sustained during a police raid on his house on Saturday in which he was shot in the head, according to Islamic Jihad accounts.

The group blamed Hamas, and Jundiya’s family said the pathologist’s report confirmed he had died of wounds caused by Hamas police bullets.

The interior ministry said Jundiya had opened fire on police first.

In response, Islamic Jihad “suspended its contacts with Hamas,” a group leader told AFP on Sunday.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri played down the reported fallout, saying “contacts are continuing between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which have strong ties”.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, Islamic Jihad said Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya had “apologised and offered his condolences” for Jundiya’s death, saying the government would take full responsibility for the results of the joint inquiry.

Islamic Jihad claims to have 8,000 fighters in its military wing, making it the second largest armed group in Gaza behind Hamas.

Unlike smaller Salafist factions, Islamic Jihad has respected the Egypt-brokered truce between Hamas and Israel that ended eight days of deadly conflict last November.