TEL AVIV — Seven Palestinian jihadists residing in the Gaza Strip have managed to cross the border fence between Egypt and the Strip in order to join the ranks of Wilyat Sinai, the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State active in the Sinai Peninsula, according to a senior jihadist in Gaza.
This despite the thorough security arrangements in the area and the increased presence of both Egyptian soldiers and Hamas security personnel.
According to Abu Baker al-Maqdesi, a senior jihadist in the Gaza Strip associated with IS ideology, the seven were wanted by Hamas authorities but managed to evade Hamas’ security forces deployed not only along the entire border but all the paths leading to it. They reached Sinai through the fence itself and not the underground tunnels connecting the two territories.
The seven managed to open a hole in the fence west of Rafah city to reach Sinai.
According to al-Maqdesi, Hamas security forces spent two days raiding the homes of the seven as well as searching the border area, “but everyone, all of our brothers, finally succeeded in crossing the border to join the army of the Caliphate, despite the security arrangements of Hamas and the Egyptian army.”
The senior jihadist said the seven were all between the ages of 18-21.
In recent months, Hamas has expanded the security zone between the Gaza Strip and Sinai to prevent the infiltration of jihadists. Egyptian security forces and Egypt’s border patrol have increased their activities in the border area to stop jihadists entering Gaza from Sinai as well.
Meanwhile, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Tuesday that IS’s branch in Sinai has become the organization’s deadliest in the Middle East. The newspaper said that the organization has been aided by fighters from Sinai as well as others arriving from Iraq since the organization’s loss of its territory there.
The terrorist organization’s operations such as intelligence collection and the firing of Kornet-type rockets have reportedly turned IS’s Egyptian branch into its most prominent asset. According to Haaretz‘s security analyst, the terrorist organization’s recent operations in Sinai show signs of planning for precise operations and military activity reliant on organization and well-thought-out combat doctrine.