Special to WorldTribune.com
An internal struggle is afoot over whether Hamas should cut its ties with Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
On one side, the old guard in Gaza, led by former Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and “military wing” official Yahya Sinwar, want to sever ties to ISIL.
On the other side, a rising group of Salafists, led by former interior minister Fathi Hamed and top terror operative Ayman Noufel want to keep Hamas solidly linked with the terror organization. Noufel is an escapee from an Egyptian prison who is said to have returned to Gaza with some of Egypt’s most brutal jihadists.
While the politburo class favors a split from ISIL, the Salafists have allowed the terror organization unprecedented access to Hamas’s weapons arsenal, according to a report by Walla! News.
The internal battle over ISIL continued ever after the leader of Sinai Province, ISIL’s Egypt affiliate, recently visited Hamas leaders in Gaza. A recent report also said that ISIL invaded a Hamas weapons cache last summer only days after reports leaked of ISIL officials visiting Gaza.
While Hamas political leaders fight it out over links to ISIL, factions of jihadists are also battling on the streets of Gaza.
Recent reports said that Iran, with the blessing of Hamas, has opened a new Shi’ite terror branch, the Al-Sabireen (“Patient Ones”) Movement For Supporting Palestine, which has around 400 members in Gaza. Meanwhile, Salafist officials are said to have given the pro-ISIL (Sunni) groups they back in Gaza permission to attack the Iranian terror affiliate.