Hamas has decided to penalize more than fifty of its own militants who have expressed support for the Islamic State organization and its extremist ideology in a bid to expunge IS-supporting elements from its ranks, according to a senior Hamas source.
Hamas has frozen salary payments to operatives of its military wing, including three top field commanders from the northern Gaza Strip, and a top operative in the Al Qassam Brigades’ marine corps, the source said.
Hamas has stepped up punitive measures after “reeducation” courses and preemptive interrogations of suspected jihadists proved ineffective, the source said. Hamas said that if the militants fail to comply, they will be expelled from the movement.
As part of Hamas’ campaign against radical elements, the movement has offered religious training to its militants alongside military training, so as to be able to supervise the “suspects” more closely, the source said.
Despite Egypt’s insistence in high-level discussions held in Cairo last month, Hamas refused to extradite Palestinian jihadists suspected of being involved in attacks against Egyptian troops. However, Hamas offered to share any information their interrogations may yield.
Hamas’ refusal resulted from the belief that the act of extraditing militants would deliver a further blow to Hamas’ reputation among militants. The source told Breitbart Jerusalem that the organization’s leadership did not want to be perceived as collaborating with an “anti-Islamic” government, which may only increase the alienation of rogue members.
Similarly, Hamas has recently released several IS sympathizers from detention.
They were released as a goodwill gesture to Waliyat Sinai, IS’s Egyptian affiliate, which controls Hamas’ smuggling routes, and to convince public opinion that Hamas is not an enemy of IS.
For some time, Hamas has been struggling to dissuade splinter groups from joining IS. Last month, Hamas troops arrested 22 of its activists, including three top operatives, en route to Sinai.