TEL AVIV – Bedouin tribes fighting against the Islamic State group in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula have warned Hamas against continued support for IS in Sinai. The tribes accused Hamas of allowing fighters outside the Gaza Strip to join IS’s ranks through smuggling tunnels that connect Gaza to the Sinai while providing sanctuary to IS members.
The internet news site Al-Arabiya reported that the tribes threatened “to take violent measures against Hamas” because they believe Hamas has given permission to terrorists to join the Islamic State group by exiting Gaza through the tunnels. According to the report, senior tribe members said that IS fighters captured by the tribesmen admitted that they receive logistical support from Hamas, which they said treats their wounded and gives the terrorist organization’s fighters safe hiding places.
According to a representative of the tribes, “From the moment IS fighters flee from Egyptian army soldiers and tribal warriors, they get a safe hiding place, and are offered medical care and military training” by Hamas. The representative also warned Hamas “against harming Bedouin tribesmen living in the Gaza Strip and to stop their persecution, arrest or summons for interrogation. We will respond to any attempt by Hamas to punish any member of the tribes for supporting the members of his clan who are in the Sinai.”
Earlier this month, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that Hamas’ security forces arrested a number of Bedouin residents of the Gaza Strip when they tried to travel to Sinai through the tunnels in order to join their clan members in the fight against IS in Sinai after the organization murdered a number of tribe members, claiming they had cooperated with the Egyptian military.
Most of the detainees are from the Trabin tribe, the largest in the Gaza Strip. A security source in the Strip told Breitbart Jerusalem that dozens of young Bedouin tribesmen living in Gaza succeeded in infiltrating Sinai through the tunnels in order to join the fight against ISIS.
According to the Al-Arabiya report, representatives of the tribes posted photos of Palestinian fighters and residents of the Gaza Strip who were killed after fighting with IS in Sinai. One of the dead was Soubhi Alatar, the brother of Raed Alatar who was formerly the commander of southern Gaza for the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s so-called military wing, and was himself killed in August 2014 in an Israeli strike in southern Gaza.
Alatar was reportedly among those responsible for planning the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and was even seen in photos of Shalit being handed over to Egyptian intelligence as part of a prisoner exchange for Palestinians held in Israel.
According to the Al-Arabiya report, the tribesmen claim that Alatar was the third resident of the Gaza Strip to be killed by tribal fighters while fighting with IS in Sinai.