Hamas security forces have stepped up their pursuit of Islamic State operatives and supporters as well as other Salafist jihadists in the Gaza Strip, even while a Hamas delegation is visiting Egypt led by politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, a senior Gaza jihadist affiliated with IS ideology told Breitbart Jerusalem.
According to jihadist Abu Baker al-Maqdesi, in the wake of an announcement from Wilyat Sinai that two Palestinians from Gaza had participated in an IS attack on an Egyptian army headquarters in the town of Al Arish in Sinai, Hamas began making a new wave of arrests against those suspected of being IS supporters and operatives in the Gaza Strip.
Al-Maqdesi said that 14 jihadists were arrested on Sunday, including seven Hamas members who he said live near the home of one of the two Gazans IS says took part in the attack against Egyptian army base 101 in Al Arish. Al-Maqdesi added that those arrested are suspected of cooperating with the jihadists.
One of the seven Hamas members who were arrested is said to be an imam at one of the mosques in the neighborhood of Sheikh Radwan, the neighborhood where one of the two Palestinian jihadists who were killed in Sinai lived. The Hamas imam is suspected of reciting the prayer for the dead to remember Abdel Rahman Banat, who died in the attack on the Egyptian base.
According to al-Maqdesi, Hamas forces raided Banat’s home despite the family being well-known as Hamas supporters, with many of its members serving in Hamas’s so-called military wing. The security forces prevented the family from erecting a mourning tent to receive condolences. Hamas even set up roadblocks near the family’s home to prevent others from reaching the tent.
Al-Maqdesi also said that Hamas has prevented the family of the second Gaza jihadist killed in Sinai, Tareq al-Sheiq, from erecting their own mourning tent.
A source in Hamas confirmed these details in a conversation with Breitbart Jerusalem, but said the seven Hamas members were released after a few hours of questioning while the imam has been removed from his post as head of the mosque for reciting the prayer for the dead on behalf of Banat.
On Saturday, IS declared that the attack by Wilyat Sinai, its offshoot in Sinai, was carried out by four kamikaze-style fighters who killed or wounded dozens of Egyptian soldiers. IS in Sinai said that two of its members killed in the attack were Egyptian and the other two were Palestinian.
Photos of the Palestinians were released along with their IS names, but al-Maqdesi, himself a senior jihadist in the Gaza Strip, told Breitbart Jerusalem that the two were former operatives of Hamas’ so-called military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. They joined the ranks of IS in Sinai one year ago.
The two were identified as Banat, a resident of the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City, and al-Sheiq, from the city of Rafah.
The release of these details — and the fact that the IS terrorists were residents of the Gaza Strip — as a Hamas delegation continues discussions in Cairo with Egypt’s intelligence chiefs, is a major embarrassment for Hamas’ leaders, as Egypt has demanded that they take any steps necessary to prevent the flow of jihadists from the Gaza Strip to Sinai.