Monday, December 14, 2015

Report: Hamas is funding Islamic State in Sinai

Recently, a senior Hamas jihadist in Gaza referred to ISIS fighters as their brothers. It's all one jihad.
(Ynet) Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip has been transferring tens of thousands of dollars a month to the Islamic State group's Sinai branch over the past year, via one of its emissaries.

The transfer of cash is just one part of the military and strategic cooperation between the two groups. The finances of Hamas' military arm, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, are independent of those of the organization's political bureau.

Hamas is paying the Islamic State militants in Egypt to secure weapons shipments being smuggled through the Sinai to Gaza.

The shipments primarily consist of explosive propellant material that Hamas needs in order to make rockets. As such the money is going towards smuggling both military equipment and material needed to build Hamas' military infrastructure.

Israel's security establishment has pointed out a clear paradox in this dangerous collaboration: the bulk of Hamas' financial support comes from Iran, which is persistently fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Many Iranians have already been killed on the frontline of this battle. Furthermore, the Iranians are specifically funding the Gaza front against ISIS's Sinai branch – via Hamas.

A significant amount of Hamas' military funds comes from the taxes it extracts from Gazans, primarily via commercial activities at the Kerem Shalom crossing on the border with Israel. Hamas levies a daily amount of around NIS 1.7 million in taxes from traders at the crossing. Some of this money goes towards the wages of members of Hamas' military wing, which counts around 24,000 militants among its ranks.

Egyptian security officials note that it is solely thanks to Hamas' monetary and professional support of ISIS in the Sinai that the branch has, in the last few years, turned from a gang of Bedouin with light weapons into a well-trained, well-armed group of 800 militants. ISIS in the Sinai has been doggedly fighting the Egyptian army and threatening to carry out terror attacks against Israelis close to the border.

Israeli officials believe that if the situation escalates on the Gaza front, both ISIS in the Sinai and ISIS in Gaza will aid Hamas in its fight against the IDF.