One of the most notable political processes currently taking place in Hamas-ruled Gaza is the growing prominence of "Salafi jihad" organizations.
The attempt in August by the Hamas authorities to suppress the Jund Ansar Allah group in southern Gaza momentarily cast the spotlight on the growth of the Salafis. They have not gone away.
Following Hamas's mini-crackdown, the Salafi groupings have continued to grow. No clear line exists between them and the more "moderate" Islamists of Hamas. Rather, Salafi sentiments and loyalties proliferate among rank and file Hamas militants, in particularly in the movement's armed wing - the Kassam Brigades.
A complex myriad of Salafi groups exists in Gaza. A key question is whether they will succeed in unifying, in order to pose a more serious challenge to the Hamas authorities.
Among the most significant are the Jund Ansar Allah, the Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), and the Jaish al-Umma (Army of the Nation.) The Jaish al-Islam is built around the powerful Doghmush clan of Gaza.
The Jaish al-Umma, meanwhile, is headed by Sheikh Abu Hafez al-Maqdisi, a well known Salafi cleric from southern Gaza. But it is the Jund Ansar Allah which is considered by many analysts to have the best chance of acting as a unifying force for the plethora of small sects which make up the Salafi subculture in Gaza.
Hamas's crackdown on Jund Ansar Allah came after the group attempted in August to proclaim an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip. The Salafi movement's leader, Abdul Latif Abu Moussa (Abu al-Nur al-Maqdesi) was killed in the August fighting. His movement, however, has survived and is now attempting to bring other, smaller groups under its banner.
Among the most noteworthy of these groupings is the Suyuf al Haq al-Islamiyyah.Also of note is the Fatah al-Islam group, consisting of 120 survivors of the Lebanese group of the same name, which was bloodily suppressed by the Lebanese Armed Forces in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.