TEL AVIV – Over the last month alone, 12 jihadists have left Gaza to join the Islamic State in Sinai, a top Salafi source told Breitbart Jerusalem.
The group of Salafists left Gaza together as part of an intricate escape operation, defying Hamas’ heightened security and Egypt’s strict control of cross-border tunnels, the sources said.
Nine of them were university graduates (including four with a Master’s degree), they were all employed, and some had families.
“Most of them didn’t belong to a specific organization,” the source said.
The trickle of jihadi fighters into Sinai continues despite a recent deal between the Egyptian army and Hamas, whereby the latter has deployed hundreds of troops along the border.
Egypt was adamant in its demand that Hamas stop collaborating with Waliyat Sinai, IS’s Egyptian branch, as Breitbart Jerusalem recently reported.
Breitbart Jerusalem previously reported that cooperation between Hamas and IS became tighter after a top Waliyat Sinai commander visited Gaza and persuaded Hamas to release dozens of jailed jihadists in return for assistance with arms smuggling, which has become more difficult since Abdel Fatah al-Sisi became president of Egypt.
Breitbart Jerusalem has reported that Shadi al-Menai, one of the leaders of Wilayat Sinai, visited Gaza in a bid to mediate between Hamas and local Salafi groups after clashes erupted, resulting in the arrest of dozens of jihadists by Hamas forces.
A leading Salafi source revealed at the time that Menai mediated a deal whereby Hamas would give the Gaza Salafi opposition groups more leeway in exchange for Wilayat Sinai’s help in bypassing the Egyptian army’s restrictions on smuggling rocket parts into Gaza
The recruitment of Gazan jihadists by IS in Sinai comes after a top jihadist official threatened in an exclusive interview on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” that it is only a matter of time before the Islamic State’s branch in the Sinai carries out a “big operation” in the Israeli resort town of Eilat and other parts of southern Israel.