Christmas has come early:
RAFAH, Gaza Strip (Reuters) – Palestinian Islamists Hamas struck back at an challenge to their hold on the by storming a mosque in battles that left the leader of the "Warriors of God" splinter group among up to 28 dead.
When fighting ended in the town of early on Saturday, Hamassaid the preacher-physician who led the group and who had proclaimed an al Qaeda-style Islamic "emirate" from a mosque on Friday was dead -- blown up by his own hand along with a Syrian ally and killing a mediator trying to negotiate a truce.
Long War Journal has more:
Heavy fighting broke out between Hamas and an al Qaeda linked group that called for the creation of an Islamic state in Gaza. Thirteen people, including the leader of both groups' military wings, were reported killed and 85 more were wounded after Hamas attacked following sermon at a mosque in Rafah.
Abdel Latif Moussa, the leader of the Jund Ansar Allah, triggered the violent clashes after he said Hamas is insufficiently Islamic and created an Islamic emirate, or state, in Rafah which would eventually spread throughout the Palestinian territories.
Moussa, who goes by the name Abu al Nour al Maqdissi, swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden during his controversial Friday sermon, which was attended by several hundred followers. Moussa surrounded himself with five masked gunmen armed with assault rifles; one wore what appeared to be a suicide belt.