TEL AVIV — Hamas authorities arrested six members of the group’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, a few days ago as they sought to infiltrate Sinai through the tunnels connecting Gaza to the Peninsula in order to join Islamic State fighters there, a Hamas official told Breitbart Jerusalem.
The six were members of the al-Qassam Brigades’ naval commando unit and all were residents of the city of Rafah, located on the border between Gaza and Egypt.
The security source said that the six were arrested by public security forces of Hamas police. They were handed over for questioning at military prison facilities run by the al-Qassam Brigades, which has been faced with a constant stream of its members heading to Sinai to join Wilyat Sinai, the Egyptian branch of IS.
A jihadist source in the Gaza Strip confirmed in a conversation with Breitbart Jerusalem last week that three of those responsible for the attack claimed by IS in northern Sinai that killed 23 Egyptian soldiers were residents of the Gaza Strip and former members of Hamas’ military branch.
Last month, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that five Hamas members had successfully infiltrated Sinai through the tunnels connecting the Peninsula to Gaza and joined the ranks of IS.
Eleven more Gazans and IS supporters managed to pass through the tunnels and join Wilyat Sinai at the end of last month. These incidents have dealt a heavy blow to Hamas’ efforts to improve relations with Egypt, in part through understandings reached by the two sides when a Hamas security delegation visited Egypt last month and promised to increase its efforts to prevent the flow of people and weapons from the Strip to Sinai and vice versa.
The Hamas source told Breitbart Jerusalem that the failed attempt of the six commandos wasn’t the first. According to the source, 11 naval commandos were arrested at the beginning of the year as they were also preparing to join IS. The source added that before their arrest, four other members of the same commando unit succeeded in entering Sinai and joining IS.