CONTENT PREVIEW
Terrorism & Insurgency

Suicide attack on Hamas militants indicates evolving security relationship with Egypt and continuation of Palestinian reconciliation

20 August 2017

Key Points

  • Hamas appears to be successfully implementing the security conditions of a reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian factions and supported by Egypt and the UAE.
  • Hamas militants and leaders are likely to increasingly be targeted by jihadist groups operating from within Gaza in retaliation for a security crackdown and the higher casualty rates suffered in an Islamist insurgency in north Sinai.
  • There is likely to be an elevated frequency of isolated jihadist attacks, likely involving small-arms fire, rocket attacks, and improvised explosive devices, on Israeli targets from Gaza in an attempt to discredit Hamas and provoke an Israeli response.

Event

A Palestinian jihadist militant detonated a suicide belt on 17 August at a Hamas security checkpoint on the southern Gazan border with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

Two Hamas guards patrol the Gazan-Egyptian border on 17 August. A Palestinian jihadist detonated a suicide belt at a Hamas border checkpoint on 17 August. (SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images: 833540672)Two Hamas guards patrol the Gazan-Egyptian border on 17 August. A Palestinian jihadist detonated a suicide belt at a Hamas border checkpoint on 17 August. (SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images: 833540672)

The jihadist was part of a two-man team attempting to cross the border from the Gaza Strip into Egypt. When stopped by Hamas security personnel he detonated an explosive vest, killing himself and one of the Hamas guards, and wounding five others and his accomplice. According to a statement published on the Islamic State-affiliated Ibn Taymia Media Centre, the two men intended to cross into Sinai to participate in the insurgency against the Egyptian army and were equipped with explosive belts in anticipation of being stopped by security. This is the first recorded instance of a suicide attack by a Palestinian against Hamas. Hamas's interior ministry officials have claimed that the assailant was a member of the Islamic State; the Islamic State praised the attack in its newsletter, al-Naba, published on 17 August, without claiming responsibility for it. There are approximately 1,000 militants affiliated with jihadist groups rivalling Hamas active in the Gaza Strip; these groups are opposed to the current period of enforced truce with Israel and periodically launch rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

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