Fear of Islamic State Retribution Prevents Hamas Chief From Returning to Gaza

Ismail Haniyeh

The Islamic State’s fresh offensive against the Egyptian Army in Sinai has delayed Hamas’ former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s (pictured) return to Gaza, Hamas officials told Breitbart Jerusalem.

Haniyeh left Gaza for Qatar a few months ago to work on his leadership bid; he is considered the leading contender to succeed the movement’s chief diplomatic leader, Khaled Meshal.

He has been unable to return to Gaza as fighting between Welayat Sinai, IS’ Egyptian affiliate, and Egyptian troops in the Al Arish area has intensified recently.

In one of the incursions, IS militants took over an Egyptian APV that was deserted by its personnel. Egyptian troops were unable to recapture it for another 24 hours.

Ongoing clashes and IS ambushes on the main road out of Gaza have disrupted travel in general. Last month, as Hamas continued its crackdown on IS loyalists in Gaza, the militants made an explicit threat to harm Haniyeh if he attempts to travel back to Gaza.

A senior Hamas official said the movement concluded that based on their latest intelligence assessment, Haniyeh should suspend his return for the time being.