Hamas Allowing ‘Palestinian Hezbollah’ to Operate in Gaza
The Gaza Strip’s Sunni Muslim rulers Hamas have been allowing a Shia organization beholden to Iran called “Al-Sabirin” to carry out its activities in the coastal enclave.
Al-Sabirin reportedly launched its first operation against Israel on May 25, 2014, and is beleived to comprise of disgruntled or expelled members of rival terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The group is led by Hisham Salem – a former senior official in Palestinian Islamic Jihad – who founded the group last June.
Of late, Salem has been issuing condemnations of Saudi Arabia’s “Decisive Storm” military operation against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The condemnations are in line with the position taken by Iran’s other proxies in the Arab world, particularly Lebanon-based Hezbollah which has vociferously criticized the Saudi-led strikes.
Al-Sabirin calls itself, “a Palestinian resistance movement that seeks to free all of Palestine and does not believe in any negotiated agreements or even long-term truces with Israel.”
The group has received full Iranian support for its multiple charitable organizations, some of which encourage the spread of Shia Islam in Gaza. Among the charities run by the organization are “Jamaat Ansar Al-Sajeen” or the Organization for the Support of the Prisoner, “Jamaat Baka’iat Al-Salaha,” or the Organization Lamenting the Righteous, and Dar Al-Huda, or Organization for Guidance, which engages in proselytism.
Hezbollah is said to have encouraged the launch of Al-Sabirin. In fact, Al-Sabirin’s flag replicates Hezbollah’s and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ symbol of a fist clenching an AK-47 over a globe and a Qur’an. Iran’s other Shia proxies, like Hezbollah Al-Hejaz, Badr Organization and Kata’ib Hezbollah, use similar imagery.
When the movement was launched, Salem said that, “this movement was launched to resist the occupation.” Palestinian sources noted his long-time and well-known support for Iran and Hezbollah and he has also admitted that his group receives Iranian financial support.
As a result of its dependence on Iran, Hamas, which has been increasingly reliant on the Islamic Republic for financial and military support, despite temporary frictions in the relationship between the two sides, has turned a blind eye to the organization’s activities in the Gaza Strip.