TEL AVIV — Eleven jihadist residents of the Gaza Strip who swore allegiance to the Islamic State organization succeeded last weekend in joining Wilayat Sinai, the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State, a senior jihadist source in Gaza told Breitbart Jerusalem.
All 11 managed to flee the Strip through the tunnels that connect Gaza to Sinai and joined the ranks of IS in Sinai, where the group is fighting a difficult war against Egyptian military forces.
According to the jihadist source, all 11 were jailed in Hamas prisons in the last few months. He stated that they were sentenced to 6-9 months and were all released last week. “Our brothers spent four days out of jail before making their way to the ranks of the mujahedeen in Sinai,” he said.
The Gazan jihadists’ flight from the Strip to Sinai is a blow to Hamas after the organization made a commitment to Egypt in recent weeks to increase enforcement and military presence along the Gaza-Sinai border in order to prevent the movement of jihadists between the two zones.
The commitment from Hamas was declared during a delegation of Hamas officials’ visit to Egypt, led by Hamas’ Gaza politburo chief Yehya Senwar, who met with Egyptian representatives responsible for Palestinian affairs.
Within the framework of the understandings, Hamas deployed 400 security personnel along the border in order to stand by its commitment to Egypt to cut off the movement of jihadists in the border area.
The case of the 11 who crossed the border comes after a similar incident that took place last week, when five Gazans joined the ranks of IS. All five were members of Hamas’ military branch, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and managed to escape under the noses of Hamas security forces who saw them. They crossed the border through tunnels despite being fired on by Hamas security forces.
The jihadist source stated that the escape of the 11 indicates that “the Islamic State organization has many fans among the young people of the Gaza Strip who understand that the war isn’t over the ’67 or ’48 borders and isn’t a war for territory alone, but rather a worldwide war against Islam and the infidels managed to subordinate Hamas to their will and recruit it for the war against Islam while … allowing Hamas to rule in the Gaza Strip. What will Hamas rule give if it is subject to democracy and not the laws of sharia?”