A group calling itself the “Army of Believers/Al-Qaeda in Palestine Organization” attacked the American International School in the northern Gaza Strip Jan. 13, setting ablaze five buses and a car. “Armed men entered the school in Beit Lahiya during the night and ransacked rooms as well as adminstration offices, and stole several computers,” school director Rabhi Salem told AFP. Four days earlier, armed men fired anti-tank rockets at the school, causing serious damage to the building. A message left behind in the second attack read: “Polytheists and enemies of Islam are pursuing each day their work to destroy our youths, who are falling by the dozens into the swamps of vice and moral decadence. That is why we must re-establish the truth and warn everyone who might try to corrupt our youths or try to open such places of corruption.”
Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip denounced the attacks and said an investigation has been launched. The school, which was also the target of a bomb attack in April 2007, is the only private school in the Gaza Strip, with an enrollment of 150 students. (AFP, Jan. 13)
The group’s rhetoric appears similar to that of the “Lions of Monotheism” apparently active in the West Bank.