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Hamas Attempting to Negotiate with Islamic State Sympathizers in Gaza Amid Arrest Campaign

AP Photo/Nasser Nasser
AP Photo/Nasser Nasser
ALI WAKED

TEL AVIV — The Hamas movement has continued its campaign of arrests against jihadists in the Gaza Strip that began after the death of a Hamas security officer in a suicide blast that occurred when he detained a Gazan jihadist who was trying to escape to Sinai to fight in the ranks of Wilyat Sinai, the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State.

Immediately after the attack, Hamas began an investigation into the incident and a security operation against jihadists and supporters of IS in Gaza, which, according to a senior jihadist, led to the arrest of abut 170 jihadists.

However, a senior Hamas source has revealed that even as the arrests continued, Hamas began acting to establish a special committee to communicate with IS jihadist elements or clerics close to the jihadists, some of whom are imprisoned in Hamas facilities.

The committee is comprised of Hamas clerics, Hamas security officials and members of Hamas’ so-called military wing. They have begun to establish contacts with senior jihadists imprisoned in Hamas facilities. Among them are Sheikh Ali Rihan, Sheikh Abdullah al-Ashqar, Sheikh Muhamad Abu al-Atta and others.

Some of these prisoners were wanted for over two years by Hamas and only arrested in recent weeks, while others were arrested a number of months ago.

The senior Hamas source said that Hamas members on the committee include Sheikh Yunis al-Astal, Sheikh Abdullah al-Riqeb and Sheikh Salem Salameh, all three of whom are senior Hamas clerics. The other committee members are security officials, including Mustafa Habush, the head of internal security.

The source said that only initial discussions have taken place and Hamas is currently undergoing internal consultations to determine the goal of these discussions. “There’s no intent here to reconcile with the jihadists, but there is a goal to clarify the rules of the game regarding the weapons possessed by the activists and jihadist organizations, particularly anything involving Gazan jihadists in the war in Sinai between the Egyptian army and the Islamic State organization,” said the source.

A senior jihadist confirmed to Breitbart Jerusalem that Hamas officials informed senior jihadist prisoners that they will soon meet with a delegation of Hamas clerics. But according to Abu Baker al-Maqdesi, a Gazan jihadist associated with IS ideology, “The conversations haven’t begun yet and I know that our sheikhs demand conversations between us and them before anything begins. We won’t give Hamas the gift of speaking with us while simultaneously arresting us.”

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