Cooperation between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Islamic State’s affiliate in Sinai has decreased noticeably in recent weeks, but documents seen by The Times of Israel show the two organizations continue to coordinate and help each other in many key areas.
Despite pressure from Egypt, which is battling an ongoing insurgency led by the so-called ‘Sinai Province’ of IS, Hamas has refused to crack down on smuggling by IS through tunnels run by its members under the Gaza-Sinai border. Instead, the Palestinian terror group has looked to this activity as a source of income, and recently raised its taxes on goods brought into the Strip by IS smugglers.
This marks a shift in policy from recent months, during which Hamas arrested IS members in the Strip in a bid to curb the group’s activities. The crackdown led to the shuttering of the IS-operated smuggling tunnels. These tunnels, sources say, were recently reopened.
Hamas is now permitting IS members to run a media production operation inside Gaza, out of the reach of the Egyptian military, The Times of Israel has learned. This operation has produced propaganda materials that include messages claiming responsibility for terror attack in Sinai, Cairo and other sites within Egypt.
Egypt is aware of these activities, including the media office, but has apparently chosen to turn a blind eye to this cooperation.
In recent days, attacks by the IS affiliate against Egyptian forces have ratcheted up in the El Arish area on the northern coast of the Sinai peninsula, leading to a sharp spike in the death toll among Egyptian soldiers. The weaponry used in these attacks is believed to have come from Gaza.”
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The Hamas charter says that it is “one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine” and soon after Hamas took over the Gaza strip, Muslim Brotherhood representatives traveled to Gaza from Egypt through the newly-opened border to review Hamas military formations. A Hamas journalist has acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons and Hamas is known to be supported financially and politically by the global Muslim Brotherhood.