Hamas in the Gaza Strip is training and harboring foreign fighters from the Islamic State as well as fighters from the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.
Respected and independent Egyptian news outlet El-Watan cited top Egyptian security forces as saying they received information that 250 armed foreign Islamic State fighters are currently inside the Gaza Strip. Hamas officials are said to be in charge of the training and housing of these fighters and providing them with weapons and ammunitions.
Instructions include how to make roadside bombs and other explosives, including special bombs made to be planted in drainage tunnels that run under roads in the Sinai, remote-controlled car bombs and grenades, and training for terror attacks inside the Sinai with exit routes back to Gaza through the tunnels.
Sources added these armed men, who have been 'adopted' by Hamas are trained by fighters from Hamas’ Qassam brigade in a military training base in Tel A-Zatar in northern Gaza. Members of the brigade are also responsible for getting them in and out of Sinai through the tunnels.
The Tel A-Zatar base was reported to be the operation’s center for a number of major terrorist attacks against Egyptian security forces in the Sinai including:
- An attack in 2014 at Karm el-Qawadis south of el-Sheikh Zuweid, in which 30 Egyptian military personnel were killed. The attack was followed by an attack at el-Arish in which three more Egyptians were killed, and
- An attack in 2015 at the Swiss Inn hotel, which killed seven people including at two judges who were supervising parliamentary elections at the time.
All of the terrorists that escaped from the Sinai to Gaza after attacking Egyptian military personnel – which includes jihadis from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (the Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai) – are living currently in the area of Tel A-Zatar inside of houses that are rented to them by Hamas, the Egyptian sources added.
The houses are located next to the villa of a Hamas official who, according to the sources, is responsible for all Sinai operations, providing shelter for terrorists that manage to escape from the Sinai Peninsula and transferring wounded terrorists from Sinai to the Gaza Strip. In addition, all announcements, video clips and other media from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis originate from inside the villa, including a Twitter account called “Sinai 24,” which deals with news about Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.
Hamas has given these foreign ISIS members as well as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis terrorists Palestinian identification cards and other identification that show their affiliation with the Qassam Brigades so that they can move freely inside the Gaza Strip.
This video takes a look inside a Hamas training facility: