Hamas arresting Islamic fighters in Gaza, say families

Gaza, April 28 (IANS) Families of Palestinian Salafi Muslims held in Hamas prisons gathered in Gaza City on Sunday, demanding the Hamas government to release their sons, reported Xinhua.

Dozens of women, dressed in black outfits covering their entire bodies, and some children gathered at the intersection of a main street in the city, holding banners calling for the release of their sons, who were held for taking part in firing rockets into Israel.

Since an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Hamas and Israel took effect in November 2012, Al Qaeda-style extremist groups, with Salafi members in Gaza, have often claimed responsibility for breaking the truce and firing rockets into Israel.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, has stepped up its crackdown on the Salafists, who had fired into Israel at least five times since the end of the eight-day cross-border fire half a year ago.

"Our sons are strugglers, not criminals or terrorists," read one of the banners at the demonstration, where many participants said their sons were detained illegally.

The sister of one of the detainees said her family had been denied visit to her brother since the beginning of April.

However, Hamas denies that it has held such militants for political reasons.