TEL AVIV – One of the five Islamic State militants allegedly killed in a drone strike in Sinai on Sunday was a former top Hamas operative who defected to join jihadist ranks in Egypt, according to Gaza jihadist sources speaking to Breitbart Jerusalem.
On Monday, two rockets were fired at Israel from Sinai a few hours after a pro-IS news agency reported about the deadly strike against a vehicle belonging to Welayat Sinai, IS’s Egyptian affiliate, which IS blamed on an Israeli drone. The rockets landed in an open field in southern Israel, causing no damage or injuries.
The Israel Defense Forces did not provide Breitbart Jerusalem with a comment about the drone strike reports.
Jihadist sources tied to IS ideology said that all five killed were IS militants, and that Monday’s rocket fire was in retaliation for the alleged strike.
According to the sources, one of the victims was Bilal Barhoum, also known as Abu Baker, a resident of Rafah and a former top operative in Hamas’ Azz a-Din al Qassam Brigades, who was the movement’s liaison officer to Sinai militants. In this capacity, Barhoum coordinated weapons and rockets smuggling through cross-border tunnels. Five months ago, Barhoum switched sides and joined IS, said the sources.
Barhoum’s alleged defection took Hamas leaders completely by surprise, and pushed the movement to increase supervision even of its supposedly most devout loyalists.
As part of their ongoing popularity contest with IS, Hamas has sequestered the salaries of 53 of its military wing operatives who were suspected of jihadist sympathies. This came after “reeducation” courses, launched by Hamas more than a year ago, failed to halt a spillover of militants into IS ranks.