Hamas security personnel in the Gaza Strip arrested dozens of Salafist activists in the immediate aftermath of an attack in Sinai by militants from Wilyat Sinai, the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State, in which 23 Egyptian soldiers were killed.
A senior jihadist figure associated with IS told Breitbart Jerusalem that according to figures from Salafist organizations, at least 70 activists and jihadists were arrested in the crackdown.
Most of those arrested identify ideologically with the Islamic State group. The jihadist source said the arrests took place in dozens of homes belonging to Salafists and jihadists. According to the source, during the raids on the homes, Hamas personnel did not hesitate to use violence against the families of the Salafist and jihadist suspects and live fire was used in some cases.
Most of Hamas’ arrest operations focused on the southern Gaza Strip and areas along the border with Sinai.
The jihadist source noted that Hamas operatives set up ambushes during the operations and increased their searches of vehicles and businesses. “The city of Rafah was effectively surrounded by checkpoints and search points set up by Hamas members,” said the source. “In the territory leading to the border area with Sinai and Egypt, a massive presence of Hamas members could be seen. Hamas personnel were deployed at the scene in military garb as well as civilian dress and that’s in addition to the national security forces who also stuck out in the area.”
A Hamas security source confirmed the report and noted that the military wing’s border patrol was deployed along the border with Sinai. These forces are meant to reinforce the national security forces run by the Hamas regime in order to prevent jihadist infiltration back and forth between Sinai and Gaza.
According to the Hamas source, “Among other things, IS in the Sinai has an express interest in harming our relations with Egypt. So organization members decided to include Gazan fighters in the attack against the Egyptian army. There’s no doubt there was an attempt here to complicate Hamas’ relationship with Egypt at a time when we are working very seriously to implement the understandings between us and the Egyptians in order to ease the siege on the Gaza Strip and accelerate the reconstruction of the Strip.”