The Times of Israel this week reported an increase in cooperation between the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, and forces affiliated to the so-called Islamic State in the neighbouring Sinai Peninsula, causing anger among Egyptian officials.
The reports allege that injured fighters from the Sinai Province terrorist group, which is affiliated to the so-called Islamic State, have been routinely brought into the Gaza Strip for treatment, and there are reports of weapons smuggling over the Egypt-Gaza border. Cairo discovered that a group of fighters, wounded during an attack on the Egyptian Army in Al-Arish, were treated in hospitals in Gaza.
Egypt has contacted Hamas leaders on several occasions, relaying to them that it is aware of links between senior Hamas activists in the Rafah border area and Islamic State commanders based in the Sinai. According to Egyptian sources, the fighters are lured into Gaza with the help of Hamas’s military wing via cross-border tunnels.
This comes a few months after reports of members of Hamas’s military wing helping the so-called Islamic State set up a military structure in the Sinai, and providing them with professional combat training. It was also reported that several Hamas members, including Muhammad Abu Shawish and Abed Al Wahad, even joined the Sinai Province group. One Hamas fighter, senior activist Nasser Judah, as killed fighting with the group in the Sinai.
In July 2015, over 100 people were killed after ISIS-linked terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula coordinated a wave of suicide bombings and battles on Egyptian army outposts.
Egypt has long accused Hamas of smuggling weapons to Salafist militants in the volatile Sinai Peninsula, where scores of soldiers and policemen have been killed since the army overthrew former President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.