TEL AVIV — Hamas security forces arrested over 170 Islamic State-inspired jihadists last week, senior Gaza-based jihadist Abou Baker al-Maqdesi told Breitbart Jerusalem.
According to al-Maqdesi, who is aligned with IS ideology, the Salafi jihadists were arrested on Sunday morning in the wake of the explosion last week on the border between Egypt and Gaza in which a Hamas security officer was killed while detaining a jihadist who was trying to infiltrate the Sinai Peninsula.
The incident occurred early Thursday morning when a Salafi blew himself up next to Hamas security personnel after being stopped at a checkpoint along with another jihadist. The two planned to infiltrate Sinai but were caught by surprise by Hamas security personnel. During the ensuing security check, the Salafi triggered his explosives, killing one of the Hamas members.
Hamas immediately embarked on a wide-ranging wave of arrests, al-Maqdesi stated, resulting in the detention of over 170 individuals. He also said that Hamas raided the homes of dozens more. According to al-Maqdesi, Hamas members were among those arrested, suspected of supporting the Islamic State and the organization’s ideology.
A security source in Hamas confirmed the report to Breitbart Jerusalem and said that three explosive belts were discovered during the wave of arrests and investigations are being conducted in order to determine if the jihadists were intending to use the weapons against Hamas or Egyptian security forces.
The security source in Hamas said that it was decided in wake of the incident to create a committee to consider how to deal with the Salafis politically, religiously and educationally, beyond the security-minded approach.
Ziad al-Zaza, a member of Hamas’ politburo, told journalists in Gaza that the movement is continuing the wave of arrests against the Salafis who identify with IS. Al-Zaza denied the reports published in various news outlets that during the arrests Hamas discovered headquarters and training camps for the Salafis and claimed that the Salafis have no command center or training grounds in the Gaza Strip.
According to al-Zaza, Hamas investigators are updating the Egyptians regarding the investigation into the explosion that killed a Hamas member and that an open hotline began operating between Hamas and the Egyptian leadership in order to follow the investigation, especially in light of the fact that the perpetrator of the attack was on his way to infiltrate Egyptian territory.
Al-Zaza accused Israel and Israeli intelligence organizations of funding the Salafis in order to carry out operations for Israel.
Meanwhile, one of the Salafi organizations has warned Hamas against continuing the wave of arrests and threatened to continue attacks against the Jewish state.
The group, Liwa al-Tawhid, is a Salafi sect that identifies with IS, some of whose members were formerly part of the National Resistance Committee, which took part with Hamas in the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
In a statement from the group, they claimed that Hamas arrested some of their members and they won’t respond kindly. They warned Hamas that they would be forced to respond if the wave of arrests, which they said “crosses all red lines,” continues. The organization promised to continue their attempts to harm Israel.