Hamas Increasingly Split Over Benefits Of Anti-Islamic State Campaign

Some members of the Hamas leadership have had second thoughts about their movement’s ongoing campaign against Islamic State sympathizers in Gaza, saying a more lenient approach would enable Hamas to tap into the jihadists’ arms and supply depositories in Sinai, according to Hamas sources.

In retaliation for Hamas’ clampdown on radical activists in Gaza, Welayat Sinai, IS’s Egyptian chapter, decided to stop allowing Hamas to smuggle weapons and merchandise into the Strip., the sources said.   IS were particularly livid at Hamas’ refusal to admit fighters wounded in battles with the Egyptian army into Gaza for medical treatment.

The campaign against IS has borne fruit for Hamas, who recently sent a high-ranking delegation to Cairo to discuss ways to alleviate Egypt’s blockade of the Strip.

Despite the diplomatic benefits, the sources said, Hamas’ military wing pressured the political leadership to allow the wounded to receive medical care, fearing the prospect of losing one of their major supply routes.

Most of the movement’s political leaders remain faithful to the anti-IS line, though some say it may do more harm than good.   They believe that in the absence of smuggling, Hamas is required to increase taxes, which has already damaged their approval ratings among the population of Gaza.

A Hamas official said that some members in charge of the treasury have joined military operatives in calling on the leadership to change its ways, because Egypt’s gestures may mitigate the hardships of the general population, but would do little to address Hamas’ military and financial needs.

He added that IS, in a goodwill gesture, this week allowed some Hamas merchandise into the Strip.


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