Abbas: Islamic State already operating in Gaza
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Abbas: Islamic State already operating in Gaza

Hamas previously denied jihadist group’s presence in the Strip; Israel has accused the two of cooperating

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference, June 10, 2015 (AP/Darko Vojinovic)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference, June 10, 2015 (AP/Darko Vojinovic)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that Islamic State extremists have established a presence in the Gaza Strip, Army Radio reported.

At a meeting with Jordanian parliament members, Abbas also reportedly spoke of stalled peace talks and said the international community was currently too preoccupied with the Iranian nuclear accord to give its attention to the Palestinian conundrum.

In December, Hamas denied the presence of the Islamic State in the Gaza Strip, after fliers signed by the jihadist organization emerged there, threatening women and intellectuals.

“We would like to reassure everyone that ISIS does not exist in the Gaza Strip, and the security agencies are in full control of the situation,” Iyad al-Bozum, a spokesman for Hamas’s interior ministry in Gaza, told Lebanese news channel Al-Mayadeen on December 4.

Israel has accused the two terror groups of working together.

The Islamic State released a statement at the end of June claiming its intention to topple Hamas and Fatah.

“We will uproot the state of the Jews [Israel] and you [Hamas] and Fatah [in the West Bank], and all of the secularists are nothing and you will be overrun by our creeping multitudes,” a masked Islamic State member said in a recorded message addressed to the “tyrants of Hamas.”

Islamic State affiliates took responsibility for a rocket fired at Israel from Gaza at the end of May, which had been previously attributed to Islamic Jihad. At the time, the extremist group also gave the Hamas movement a 48-hour deadline to halt its crackdown on its members.

However, the Israel Defense Forces said in the beginning of July that Hamas was providing weaponry and other support to the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate, Wilayat Sinai, the group thought to be behind a deadly July 1 attack on Egyptian security services.

The coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, added that along with military support, Hamas has also been providing medical support to injured Islamic State operatives.

Elhanan Miller, Times Of Israel staff and AP contributed to this report.

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