Gunman shoots dead 'pro-Iranian Palestinian' in Gaza, sparking denunciations

Gunman shoots dead 'pro-Iranian Palestinian' in Gaza, sparking denunciations
Mithqal al-Salmi was arrested by Hamas earlier this year for uploading posts on Facebook praising Iran and Hizballah, the Lebanese Shia paramilitary group.
2 min read
10 November, 2016
The attack took place in Al-Shatei refugee camp [AFP]
Police forces aligned with Hamas say that gunmen in Gaza had killed a Palestinian activist known for supporting Shia Islamism in the predominantly Sunni Muslim enclave.

The identified victim is Mithqal al-Salmi, who local police forces say was killed near his home on Wednesday, with investigations ongoing.

Local media reported that witnesses saw a masked man open fire at al-Salmi from close range in the Al-Shatei Refugee camp, just West of Gaza, shooting the activist in the head, before fleeing on foot. Al-Salmi was taken to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza in critical condition, and was later pronounced dead.

Hamas, a Sunni Islamist Palestinian resistance group that currently controls Gaza, has experienced a cooling of relations with Shia-ruled Iran and the Lebanese Shia paramilitary group Hizballah, backed by Tehran, due to differences over Syria’s ongoing conflict.

Hamas, which has previously received financial backing from Iran, scaled back its ties with Tehran after taking a neutral stance on the rebellion against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2012. Iran supports Assad.

Earlier this year, in February, Hamas arrested al-Salmi after the Gaza resident uploaded a series of posts to Facebook purportedly praising Iran and Hizballah, and questioning the legitimacy of some Sunni scholars.

Al-Salmi was shot in the head twice from close range  [Image: Screenshot from Twitter]

However, although al-Salmi is said to have attracted controversy for his views, in the aftermath of his death, a number of fellow Palestinians, expressed anger at his death, and fears regarding anti-Shia sentiment among Salafists in Palestine.

Some uploaded to social media sites a Facebook post written by the slain Gaza resident expressing solidarity with all Muslims, both Sunni, and Shia.

In the post written in September al-Salmi states “I am not a Sunni Muslim nor a Shia. I am Muslim, my (only) God is Allah.”

While Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, other militant groups also have a presence there, including ones that have not separated with Iran. These include the Hizballah-style al-Saberin Movement and the Islamic Jihad movement, which enjoy an uneasy relationship with Hamas.