The commander of Islamic State forces in the Sinai is currently on what was intended to be a secret visit to the Gaza Strip, meeting with Hamas terror leaders to widen their cooperation and coordinate attacks on Egyptian and Israeli targets, Israeli television reported Thursday.
Shadi al-Menei is meeting with leaders of the Hamas military wing, and discussing the ongoing supply of weapons sought by Hamas, the Channel 2 TV report said.
For its part, Hamas has smuggled weaponry from Gaza to al-Menei’s terror group in Sinai, including Cornet anti-tank missiles, which have caused heavy losses to Egypt, including considerable loss of life, at least one naval vessel and numerous tanks and armored personnel carriers, Channel 2 news said.
Al-Menei has also been responsible for occasional incidences of rocket fire from the Sinai on the Israeli southern resort town of Eilat, the TV report said.
The deepening cooperation between Hamas and al-Menei’s Islamic State hierarchy is infuriating to Egypt and “worrying for Israel,” the report added. It said that al-Menei was behind a 2011 terrorist attack in southern Israel in which four groups of terrorists targeted a bus and several Israeli army vehicles, killing six Israeli civilians, two members of the Israeli security forces and several Egyptian soldiers. Ten terrorists were killed.
Al-Menei was one of the founders of the Sinai terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which later joined Islamic State.
He was said by Egypt to have been killed in an ambush in May 2014, but the claim proved false.
Hamas “formally opposes” Islamic State,” the TV report noted, “but in practice they are cooperating.” The close interaction between Hamas and IS in Sinai is “one of the most carefully guarded secrets of the Hamas military wing in recent months,” The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reported in July.
Islamist terror group Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, ousting the forces of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. It is formally committed to destroying Israel, and has fought three major conflicts with Israel since taking hold of the Strip. Israel had withdrawn its military and civilian presence from Gaza in a unilateral disengagement in 2005.