Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot reported Tuesday that ISIS seized a large shipment of weapons Hamas planned to smuggle into the Gaza Strip. The incident occurred last summer.
The Islamic State’s “affiliate” in Sinai, a terror group called Ansar al Bayt-Maqdis, has long been at odds with both Hamas and the Egyptian army that has confronted them – usually unsuccessfully – in Sinai. Supported by many of the Bedouin tribes there, the terror group has successfully carried out numerous terror attacks, including multiple bombings of pipelines that carry gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan, as well as attacks on Egyptian soldiers and police.
According to the report. the group had also taken control of the openings of smuggling tunnels Hamas built into Sinai, in order to resupply itself with weapons and resources for building missiles to fire at Israel. In several instances, Hamas convoys have been waylaid by Ansar terrorists, who demanded a “tax” from Hamas for allowing part of the shipment through.
In one instance last summer, the report said, a Hamas convoy was taken captive by Ansar terrorists, and released only after transferring a large part of a major weapons convoy to the other terrorists. After that, Hamas sources said, Ansar terrorists attacked several groups of Egyptian soldiers and police, using weapons that appeared to have been part of the shipment. IDF officials say that it appears that Ansar – and with it ISIS – is operating freely in Sinai now, without fear of either Hamas or the Egyptian Army.
On Monday, Israeli security officials said that an attack by ISIS terrorists is “just a matter of time.” IDF officials discussing the matter said in media reports that the defense establishment was preparing to meet the threat. In recent months, defense officials said, ISIS has released numerous videos and messages on social media indicating that such attacks are in the works. Some messages contain threats of attacks on Israel, and others directly appeal to Israeli Arabs and Palestinians to carry out terror attacks on behalf of the Islamist terror group.