The Times of Israel reported Tuesday that a top ranking Hamas official defected from the Gaza-based radical Islamic terror group to join the Islamic State (IS) fighters in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Palestinian sources confirmed to the Israeli publication that while many Hamas militants have been making the leap to the IS organization in Egypt, Abed al-Wahad Abu Aadara is the first of Hamas’ elite naval commando unit to do so.
Hamas has seen a number of their top militants defect to IS’s Sinai Peninsula in recent years. Its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has lost dozens of its elite operatives to the Islamic State, becoming valuable assets to the Egyptian-based terror group.
Abu Aadara was arrested by Hamas about two months ago during a visit back to the Gaza Strip for defecting to the Islamic State. However, because of growing cooperation between the two groups to work together in smuggling efforts between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, Abu Aadara has been released.
Abu Aadara’s brother, Mufleh, also left Hamas to join the Islamic State about a year and a half ago. His brother, Mufleh, was killed in Sinai while fighting against the Egyptian army. Abu Aadara was inspired to join the Islamic State following the death of his brother.
Another former member of Hamas, Abed al-Hila al-Qishta, was killed in December following his defection to the Islamic State. While he was still a member of Hamas, al-Qishta was a top assistant to the commander of its military wing in the Rafah region.
Hamas’ military wing in the Rafah region is responsible for the smuggling coordination between Hamas and the Sinai Peninsula of weapons and injured militants into Gaza for medical care. The Egyptian government has been extremely opposed to the two terror groups cooperating with one another, but have been attempting to reconcile with Hamas with a series of meeting with Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigade commanders.