Iran is apparently pushing for the merger of two rival Palestinian militias that promote its regional agenda as well as Shi’a Islam.
Members of Al Sabireen, an organization that split off from Islamic Jihad, met with representatives of the latter at Iran’s behest in an attempt to negotiate their reunification, an Al Sabireen source told Breitbart Jerusalem.
The source said that, if a deal materializes, Al Sabireen operatives will be integrated into Islamic Jihad’s ranks and will be loyal to the organization’s military wing, the Al Quds Brigades.
“Once a deal is clinched, the Islamic Jihad leadership will announce that Hisham Salem, Al Sabireen’s secretary-general, received a top appointment in the military wing,” he said.
It is unclear whether Iran’s efforts come in response to a Saudi endeavor to unify Sunni countries into an anti-Iran coalition. Iran recently resumed funding to Islamic Jihad, although at a lower scale than in the past. The organization then asked that Iran mediate between them and Al Sabareen, the source added.
The source said that Al Sabareen is considering reunification with Islamic Jihad because it believes Hamas will continue to clamp down on Al Sabireen’s public activity.
Last month, Hamas shut down Al Sabireen’s “Khomeini Welfare Fund,” which Hamas accused of engaging in forbidden political activity.
The source said that Islamic Jihad and Al Sabireen are likely to reach a deal and resolve the outstanding issues between them.
Asked about the report, Dahoud Shihad, an Islamic Jihad spokesperson, told Breitbart Jerusalem, “We welcome any initiative to unify all groups who are part of the resistance and of course part of the Islamic jihad. I cannot give specific details about negotiations that we are having or not with the brothers in Al Sabireen.”
Iran shifted its support from Islamic Jihad to Al Sabireen after the former refused to ally itself with the anti-Sunni camp, especially in regard to the conflict in Yemen. As a result, Al Sabireen enjoyed copious funding and state-of-the-art weaponry, while Islamic Jihad struggled to keep afloat.
Inspired by Hezbollah, the most influential Shi’ite group in the region – which is funded by Iran – Al Sabireen has won many hearts and minds among radical Gazans and is widely considered the next standard bearer in the so-called armed struggle against Israel.
In December, Breitbart Jerusalem conducted an exclusive interview with Mahmoud Abu Alnada, a top Al Sabireen commander and former Islamic Jihad militant.
Spokesmen for Al Sabireen deny any affiliation with Shi’ite ideology, though they clearly ally themselves with Iran’s ideological and political stance, and the group’s symbols are similar to those of Hezbollah.
Also in December, Al Sabireen took responsibility for the attempted roadside bombing of an Israel Defense Forces patrol along the Gaza border. In October, Israel reportedly eliminated an Al-Sabireen commander, Ahmed Sharif Al-Sarhi, blaming him for numerous cross-border shooting attacks.