Homeland Security

Hamas Terror Double Game Backfires as Fighters Defect to Islamic State in Sinai

The Hamas terrorists in control of the Gaza Strip now find themselves between a rock and a hard place, as the double game that they’ve played with the Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai has backfired.

Hundreds of Hamas’ trained Qassam Brigade fighters have reportedly defected to ISIS in the Sinai. Meanwhile, an attempted rapprochement with Egypt in recent weeks also appears to be breaking down, as the Islamic State is reportedly setting Hamas up for a war with Israel that Hamas is most likely not prepared to fight.

As I reported here at PJ Media back in June, Hamas — fashioned by some in the Washington, D.C. foreign policy “smart set” as supposedly “moderate” compared to ISIS — had in fact been actively cooperating with the Islamic State:

Among the Hamas/ISIS points of cooperation: smuggling arms through the tunnels controlled by Hamas from Gaza into the Sinai; assistance in weapons and explosives training; and treating injured Islamic State fighters:

https://twitter.com/BTelawy/status/741221845521829888

Now, reports are emerging of widespread defections from Hamas to the Islamic State:

There is considerable evidence that these defections have been going on for a while. Martyrdom announcements published regularly by the Islamic State have named fighters who had previously been with the Hamas Qassam Brigades.

Perhaps even more troubling for Hamas is that many of these fighters are not low-level trainees. Senior leaders and seasoned operatives are defecting, draining Hamas of talent and experience:

https://twitter.com/BTelawy/status/746322724763672576

Pressured by these losses, Hamas has attempted to reach out to Egypt. Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh made a trip to Cairo a few weeks ago:

However, Egyptians are mindful that Hamas has directly cooperated with the Islamic State in the killing of hundreds of military and police officials in the Sinai:

The Egyptians are now taking a hard line with Hamas:

During the administration of Mohamed Morsi, a former Muslim Brotherhood official, smuggling via the tunnels from Rafah into Gaza, controlled by Hamas, was bringing in millions of dollars each week to the terror group. But with Morsi’s ouster in July 2013, the Egyptian military cracked down on the tunnels, reportedly destroying more than 3,000 and crippling Hamas finances.

Over the weekend, Hamas threatened Egypt with retaliation after the death of three of their operatives. They had died from toxic gas while repairing a tunnel previously destroyed by the Egyptian military:

There is evidence that the attempted outreach to the Egyptian government by Hamas has alienated their Islamic State partners:

In response, the Islamic State appears to be trying to bait Hamas into a punishing war with Israel by launching rockets from Sinai and Gaza into Israel, hoping to prompt a military response by the Israelis:

It’s hard to see how Hamas extricates itself. Hamas has alienated its Islamic State allies, and it continues to make enemies of the Egyptian government that continues to throttle their smuggling tunnel trade. Meanwhile, the Israelis would love nothing more than to further weaken the group responsible for numerous terror attacks and rocket launches into Israel.

As the saying goes, it couldn’t happen to nicer people.