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Hamas Forces Kill Islamic State Supporter In Gaza

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Islamist group Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, but it's facing a violent challenge from groups that are even more extreme. Today, the security forces of Hamas killed a man they said belonged to one such network. As NPR's Emily Harris reports from Gaza, this is the first death in a simmering conflict.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Hamas forces shot the 27-year-old man in his home. The corner grocer half a block away said scores of armed Hamas security personnel closed the street around 8 a.m.. He said the shootout was brief, and he didn't like the way Hamas handled it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Through interpreter) It doesn't matter what he had done. They could've arrested him, kept him alive. And this means they didn't want him alive.

HARRIS: The grocer wouldn't give his name for fear of reprisals. Hamas officials said the man was involved in some small bombings near Hamas police stations in recent weeks and claimed suicide belts were found in his home. Hamas spokesman Salah Bardaweel says poverty and unemployment is fueling the growth of radical Islamist groups.

SALAH BARDAWEEL: (Through interpreter) It's frustration, depression, seeing no way out of the internal situation in Gaza.

HARRIS: Gazan political science professor Mkaimer Abusada says some radical groups in Gaza admire ISIS, even if direct ties are hard to prove. He says these groups see Hamas as too moderate, though many Western governments see Hamas as extreme.

MKAIMER ABUSADA: They accused Hamas of being infidels to Islam. They are saying that Hamas as a de facto government in Gaza for the past eight years, Hamas must implement Islamic law and sharia and Hamas hasn't done so.

HARRIS: He says Hamas far outnumbers the more radical groups and can keep them under control. But he also says shootings, arrests and small explosions can destabilize Gaza or even the cease-fire with Israel that has largely held since August. Emily Harris, NPR News, Gaza City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.