Ehud Yaari, “Hamas and the Islamic State: Growing Cooperation in the Sinai” December 15, 2015.
Hamas has long sought to stymie Egyptian control over the peninsula and keep its weapons smuggling routes open, but its latest opportunistic gamble on local jihadists carries wider dangers that should be nipped in the bud by sponsors Turkey and Qatar.
In recent months, Hamas has been increasing its clandestine military cooperation with the Islamic State’s so-called “Sinai Province.” This cooperation culminated in a prolonged secret visit to Gaza this month by IS Sinai’s military chief Shadi al-Menai, who held talks with his counterparts in Hamas’s military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (IDQB). Menai has been at the top of Egypt’s most wanted list since an attempt to kill him failed in May 2014.
No information has been provided about the discussions, and some Hamas officials denied the initial report (made by this author) that a visit was taking place. Yet one can safely assume that Menai’s trip, via one of the few remaining underground tunnels along the Egyptian border, was dedicated to increasing arms deliveries through these tunnels and expanding Hamas military assistance to IS Sinai operatives…