TEL AVIV – The Hamas terrorist organization has been quietly studying the possibility of confiscating weapons from rival jihad groups in the Gaza Strip, WND has learned.
According to Egyptian security officials, Hamas fears other Palestinian factions, particularly the Islamic Jihad terror group in Gaza, will be used to do Iran’s bidding against Israel, forcing the Jewish state into a major operation in Gaza.
Hamas fears a confrontation with Israel could impair the political momentum that has been building in its favor amid the regional tidal wave of changes in the Middle East, including the recent parliamentary elections in Egypt that saw major gains for Hamas’ ideological parent, the Muslim Brotherhood.
At the same time, Hamas is leaning in the direction of launching from the West Bank within weeks a “popular intifada,” or so-called low-grade Palestinian campaign of demonstrations and rock throwing, the Egyptian security officials said.
The officials said Hamas views such a tactic as helping to bolster its control in the West Bank, which has traditionally been dominated by its political rival, Fatah.
The information Hamas may clamp down on Islamic Jihad, which is largely backed by Iran, follows a WND report from earlier this week quoting well-placed Hamas sources stating the terror group has been considering distancing itself from Iran.
According to the Hamas sources, the jihadist group has been asked by the Egyptian military to stay out of any future confrontation between Israel and Iran.
The group may even remain largely neutral if Israel strikes Iran’s suspected nuclear sites, the sources said. The sources added, however, that no decision has been made.
Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood belong to the Sunni stream of Islam while Iran’s leadership espouses fundamentalist Shiite Islam. While Iran has long supported Sunni groups like Hamas, the major differences in Islamic ideology and practice have always caused some unease.
Indeed, one of the most senior Hamas officials, speaking previously to WND on condition of anonymity, once said he would ultimately be pleased if Israel strikes Iran’s nuclear sites even if it means scaled-back Iranian funding to his group. The Hamas official said he fears Iran would use a nuclear umbrella to enforce a Shiite superpower in the Middle East at the expense of Sunni ideology.
According to several Hamas sources, there has been tension between the jihad group and Iran over Hamas’ decision to not aid Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in fighting an insurgency targeting Assad’s regime.
That uprising has been supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. Syria is a major Iranian partner in the region.
Some Hamas leaders even speculated the group may move their political headquarters from Syria. Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshaal currently resides in Damascus.
According to recent Arabic language news media reports, Hamas has been quietly scaling back its Damascus headquarters.
Speaking last month to WND, Ahmed Yousef, chief political adviser to Hamas’ de facto prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, confirmed reports his group is looking to move the headquarters of its top leadership from Syria.
“There are many places in the Arab world [that would welcome the] Hamas politburo,” Yousef said.
Asked specifically where Hamas headquarters can move, Yousef replied: “There are many other countries. Jordan is there. Sounds like they are trying to open dialogue with Hamas. They might offer a place. Turkey, Egypt, Qatar; there are many places where [Hamas leaders] can find a safe haven to work and try to help their people in Gaza and the West Bank.”
While Hamas might not come to Iran’s aid in the event of an Israeli strike, sources in the Islamist group told WND the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad terror organization in the Gaza Strip is still firmly in Tehran’s camp.
The Hamas sources said Islamic Jihad has very similar weaponry to Hamas, including a massive rocket arsenal capable of causing much damage to Israel.
WND reported in October on Iran’s missile training in Gaza. Egyptian security officials said Iran has been preparing Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon to retaliate in the event of Israeli strikes against Tehran’s nuclear sites.
The chatter about Hamas’ allegiances come after the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist Salafi movement’s Al-Nour Party saw considerable gains in Egypt’s recent parliamentary vote.