According to a recent Gatestone Institute publication, the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has begun to grow in the Gaza Strip, with both the PA and Israel convinced that followers of ISIS in Gaza have been responsible for some of the rocket attacks on Israel.
Last month, the Israel Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported that Salafist-jihadi operatives in the Gaza Strip uploaded a video clip to YouTube on July 8, documenting several instances of rockets being launched at Israel. The video clip, entitled “The Salafist-jihadi [movement[ in the Gaza Strip – lovers of the Islamic state [i.e. ISIS] launches rockets at the Jews.” The video showed at least 10 rockets being launched at Israel.
In addition, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported in late June that Egyptian security forces arrested 15 ISIS terrorists (known as ‘Daash’ in Arabic) who tried to infiltrate Sinai from the Gaza Strip. According to the report, the 15 who were arrested were instructed to begin the formation of an ISIS branch in Egypt among terrorist groups in the Sinai.
However, the Hamas Interior Ministry refuted the report, with Maan News Agency reporting that the ministry stated it was a lie and that “all tunnels between Gaza and Egypt have been closed completely after the Egyptian army destroyed them.” Iyad Al Bezem, a Hamas interior spokesman, stated that “there is no presence of the ISIS in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas has dealt with expressions of ISIS support in the Strip strongly. Gatestone reports that ISIS followers organized a rally on June 12 to celebrate the military victories of the ISIS in Iraq, with Hamas policemen dispersing the Rafah rally in response. In addition, Hamas prevented local journalists from reporting the event “as part of its attempt to deny the existence of ISIS in the Gaza Strip.”
At the rally, dozens of Islamists were reported chanting, “Khaybar, Khaybar, Ya Yahud, Jaish Mohamed Saya’ud!” (O Jews, Mohamed’s army will return) in reference to the story of the 629 CE battle by the Prophet Mohamed against the Jews of Khaybar in northwestern Arabia, where many Jews were killed and Jewish women and children taken as slaves.
Additionally, at a funeral for two terrorists that Israel killed for firing rockets at Israeli communities, on Sunday, June 29, the black ISIS flags were seen flying, and the terrorists’ coffins were reportedly draped in ISIS flags according to a World Net Daily report.
The radical jihadi ISIS, which recently changed its name to The Islamic State, proclaimed itself an Islamic caliphate on June 29, claiming religious authority over all Muslims in the world, and having ushered in “a new era of international jihad.” The group has exterminated at least 500 people of Iraq’s Yazidi Kurdish ethnic minority, while burying some of its victims alive. Some 300 Yazidi women were kidnapped as slaves and around 150,000 Yazidi Kurds, who have been entrapped by ISIS on Iraq’s Sinjar mountains, are currently homeless and starving.