TEL AVIV – Iran has been working around the leadership of Hamas to form independent Hamas militias capable of carrying out coordinated attacks against Israel, according to sources in Hamas.

Israeli security officials confirmed that information, saying Iranian Revolutionary Guard members inside Gaza have been assembling a team of Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen working outside the official Hamas infrastructure.

But in some cases, Iran has been paying off Hamas militia members to answer directly to Tehran instead of the Hamas leadership, the Hamas sources said.

The Israeli security officials likened the situation to the Syrian army, where they say Iran has also turned scores of officers to be loyal first to Iran and second to the Syrian regime.

The information comes after WND was first to report that Hamas has been asked by the Egyptian military to stay out of any future confrontation between Israel and Iran.

For the first time in recent years, Hamas, feeling confident from major Muslim Brotherhood gains in the region, is considering distancing itself somewhat from Iran, sources within Hamas said.

The information also follows reports that armed Hamas men broke into a gathering of some 30 Shi’ite worshippers in the Gaza Strip last Friday and brutally attacked them.

Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood belong to the Sunni stream of Islam while Iran’s leadership espouses fundamentalist Shi’ite 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 Shi’ite superpower in the Middle East at the expense of Sunni ideology.

According to several Hamas sources speaking to WND, 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.”

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