Israeli General Says Hamas Aided Sinai ISIS Group in Major Egypt Attacks
An Israeli commander said on Thursday that the Jewish state had “clear evidence” that Hamas was extending aid to Wilayat Sinai, the terrorist group affiliated with the Islamic State in the Sinai peninsula which killed at least 17 in a string of attacks on Wednesday, Israeli Channel 2 reported.
“We have clear evidence that Hamas is supporting the ‘Wilayat Sinai’ organization, which is affiliated with ISIS,” Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said in an Arabic-language interview with Al Jazeera.
“In the recent terrorist attacks, Hamas gave weapons and logistical support to the group that is affiliated with ISIS,” said Mordechai, adding that, “we have examples of Hamas commanders who actively participated in this assistance.”
Mordechai specified “Wael Faraj, a brigade commander in the military wing of Hamas,” as one of the individuals who provided Wilayat Sinai with aid by “smuggling wounded [ISIS fighters] from Sinai into Gaza.”
Mordechai gave more examples of connections between the two organizations, including the transfer of equipment from Hamas to ISIS as well as the training of operatives to carry out terrorist attacks.
“Abdullah Kitshi is a senior military trainer in Hamas’ military wing, and he trained operatives belonging to Wilayat Sinai. The military wing of Hamas has a connection with ISIS. A connection in the areas of organization and [supply of] ammunition,” said Mordechai, noting, “I am convinced of my words, and I have proof.”
Mordechai was not alone in directing these allegations at Hamas. Israel’s intelligence minister, Israel Katz, on Tuesday also accused Hamas of partnering with ISIS affiliates in the Egyptian Sinai – a charge which Hamas denies.
“There is cooperation between them in the realm of weapons smuggling and terrorist attacks. The Egyptians know this, and the Saudis,” the intelligence minister told a Tel Aviv conference organized by the Israel Defense journal.
“At the same time, within Gaza, ISIS has been flouting Hamas. But they have a common cause against the Jews, in Israel and abroad,” Katz said.
Egyptian officials also indicated that they possessed intelligence that Hamas’ military wing, acting without permission from the political leadership, was aiding Wilayat Sinai, and had possibly supplied them with anti-aircraft weapons, Israeli Walla news reported.
These reports stand in stark contrast to the open threats traded between ISIS and Hamas.
In a video released on Wednesday, directed at the “heretics of Hamas,” ISIS supporters in Syria warned Hamas that they were preparing to fight against the Gaza-based group, calling them “froth that will be eliminated in the course of our conquest.”
ISIS militants also cast doubt on Hamas’ religious pedigree, saying that the group was now a prime target of Islamic State because while it cast itself as a jihadist movement, it did not properly apply “God’s law” in Gaza.
In response, on Iran’s state-run Press TV, Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar said that ISIS’s threats “never frighten Hamas.” He warned that for those who violate Hamas’ rule in Gaza, “our security deals with them.”