CATF Reports May 17, 2016, 10:28am


On May 14th Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri categorically denied claims by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, that ISIS affiliates had entered the Gaza strip through underground tunnels from Egypt to undergo military training in Hamas-controlled territory. Mordechai posited that a Hamas-tied person based in Rafah, a city on the Egyptian-Gaza border, facilitated the flow of ISIS fighters to Gaza with the tacit approval of Hamas leadership, which allegedly guaranteed ISIS members access to medical care in return for funds and weapons. Hamas argued that the information, released by the Israeli general in an interview with a Saudi newspaper, served to justify Israel’s siege on Gaza as well as future aggressions.

It is hard to fully assess the veracity of both parties’ statements, especially in light of the highly complex relations between Hamas, ISIS, and a number of the Islamic State’s affiliates. Both Israeli authorities and Hamas officials have recently intensified security measures along the Gaza Strip border with Egypt claiming that the border posed growing security threats.

Even more importantly, during its March 2016 visit to Egypt, a Hamas delegation allegedly asked Egyptian authorities to open the Refah border crossing and to stop flooding Hamas’ tunnels linking Egypt to the Gaza strip, a request that Egypt may have accepted in exchange for Hamas’ promised dissociation from the Muslim Brotherhood and from ISIS in the Sinai. If confirmed, the use of tunnels for border crossing of ISIS fighters would cost Hamas its last chance to reestablish ties with the Egyptian government.

Reuters

From The Telegraph:

“The Isil operatives in question are likely to be members of the the Sinai Province group- formerly known as Ansar Bait al-Maqdis - who pledged allegiance to Isil almost two years ago, former head of the global jihad desk of the IDF's military intelligence Aviv Oreg told The Telegraph on Sunday. […]

Hamas’s relationship with Isil-affiliated groups is deeply complex. In a video released in July 2015, Isil threatened to overthrow Hamas in Gaza because the groups was deemed not extreme enough.

Today, the most prominent Salafist group affiliated with Isil in the coastal enclave, the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, is increasingly striving to challenge Hamas’s rule.

Over the past year, it has claimed responsibility for launching numerous rockets into southern Israel. Israel in turn says it holds Hamas responsible for all such attacks, and in retribution air strikes says it targets Hamas infrastructure.

At the same time, members of Hamas’s military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades do business with Isil- affiliated groups in the Sinai, mostly in terms of weapons trading, and some Hamas members have even reportedly defected to such groups."

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