A shootout with members of an ultraconservative Islamist group, Jund Ansar Allah, ended with its leader, a cleric named Abdel-Latif Moussa, blowing himself up, ending fighting in southern Gaza that killed at least 24 people. The Associated Press said: "fighting began Friday when Hamas forces surrounded a mosque in the southern Gaza town of Rafah where about 100 members of Jund Ansar Allah, or the Soldiers of the Companions of God, were holed up. "Flares lit up the sky overnight as Hamas machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades slammed into the mosque. The militants inside the structure returned fire with automatic weapons and grenades of their own." The National reported: "By Saturday, the Brazil refugee camp in Rafah, right on the border with Egypt where the fighting took place, was closed to the media and public as Hamas security forces swept the area. Hamas officials said order had been restored and that most members of the group had been arrested or killed. " 'This gang has been active for three or four years and adopted the ideas of radical groups like al Qa'eda,' said Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas official from Rafah.[...] "Mr Hamad said Hamas had now sent a 'strong message' to similar groups that 'it is better to live peacefully with others in Gaza and not use violence'. "Jund Ansar Allah had accused Hamas of being too liberal and wanted a strict enforcement of Islamic law in the Gaza Strip. Mousa was also unhappy that Hamas has maintained an unofficial ceasefire with Israel since January and urged his followers to engage in a global jihad, in contrast to Hamas, which maintains its struggle is solely against the Israeli occupation. "Mr Hamad said Hamas had tried to mediate with Mousa since Tuesday, to ask him to stop inciting against Hamas and the government in Gaza. But in his Friday sermon, Mousa declared Rafah an Islamic emirate that would now follow strict Islamic law and, with some 100 armed followers, he took over the mosque in the Brazil camp. "Hamas forces surrounded the area and deployed rocket-propelled grenades and other heavy weaponry against houses in the Brazil camp that had been taken over by Jund Ansar Allah fighters, themselves heavily armed. Six civilians, including an 11-year-old girl, as well as seven Hamas troops were among the dead. "Reports suggest that Jund Ansar Allah had headquartered itself in the camp because it had its own smuggling tunnel there under the border to Egypt. Hamas has prided itself on restoring order to what had been frequently lawless streets in Gaza before the movement ousted Fatah-affiliated security forces in June 2007. It has subsequently shown little tolerance for armed groups that have defied its ban on carrying weapons in public or have used them for anything other than against Israeli targets." BBC News reported: "Operating initially in Rafah and Khan Younis, Jund Ansar Allah spread rapidly throughout Gaza and, until Friday's raid, claimed to have 500 members, including a number of foreign fighters. "It is said to have a military base in a former Israeli settlement, from which it carried out a number of minor attacks on Israeli forces during the first half of the year, according to its website. "On 8 June, however, the group came to public attention with a spectacular, if unsuccessful, raid on the Karni border crossing. "At least three of its fighters were shot dead by Israeli troops after 10 rode into battle on horses laden with large quantities of explosives. "Israeli officials said several of the men had been wearing explosive belts, and suspected they had been attempting to kidnap a soldier. "Hamas officials have also blamed the 'outlaws' for the bombings of several internet cafes, seen as a source of immorality, and of a wedding party attended by relatives of the West Bank-based Fatah leader, Muhammad Dahlan." Writing for The Observer, Peter Beaumont noted: "There have been repeated allegations from Israel and the Fatah-led Palestinian leadership in the West Bank that al Qa'eda affiliates, including foreign militants, are operating in Gaza with the knowledge of Hamas, the Islamist group which controls the coastal strip. "The confirmation by a Hamas interior ministry spokesman that a Syrian national of Palestinian descent, named as Khaled Banat but also known as Abu-Abdullah al-Suri, was among those killed in fighting in the southern city of Rafah on the border with Egypt between police and Jund Ansar Allah ... will renew that controversy.[...] "The disclosure that a Syrian national was among the dead contradicts earlier claims by Ismail Haniya, who heads Gaza's Hamas government, that there were no non-Palestinian fighters in Gaza." In Al-Ahram Weekly, Saleh Al-Naami writes about "one of the most prominent jihadist organisations formed so far" in Gaza, which he refers to as "Gelgelt". He attributes the bombing of a wedding in Khan Younis and the raid by horsemen on an Israeli border post to Gelgelt, suggesting that this and Jund Ansar Allah are one and the same. "The success of Gelgelt groups gives credibility to Hamas's opponents and Israel, who say that Hamas has turned Gaza into the 'Islamic Emirate'. Hamas leaders are aware that these groups, which currently focus on attacking net cafes and weddings, would not hesitate to attack Hamas leaders and activists, claiming that Hamas is no longer committed to the teachings of Sharia law. "Hamas warned these groups that they will not be allowed to 'tamper with the security of the people'. Hamas's security officers have arrested everyone connected to the bombings in Gaza. One security source told the Weekly that it is important to enforce the law strictly and decisively. 'No one has the right to attack others or to destroy their property. Tolerance for such violence would mean the return of the security crisis that we eliminated in June 2006, when we overwhelmingly defeated the Israeli and American forces led by Dahlan. We are not willing to return to that chaos,' he said. "The Weekly has learned that both Hamas and its government have decided to wage an 'intellectual war' on the followers of Gelgelt organisations, along with security measures. A source from the Hamas movement told the Weekly that many of the Hamas clergy have begun to visit members of Gelgelt organisations, and those who show sympathy with their ideas, inviting them to a private forum to persuade them to alter their ideas. According to the source, this move by the Hamas clergy has achieved great success, as dozens of young people have withdrawn from the ranks of Gelgelt organisations."