ISIS Sinai group says its Hamas liaison has been killed

The ISIS-affiliate terrorist group in Egypt has announced that its liaison to Hamas in the neighbouring Gaza Strip has been killed.

ISIS’s Sinai Province released a statement confirming the death of  Hashem Abdel Aileh Kishtah, although it did not specify how he had died. It is thought that Kishtah, who is originally from Rafah in the Gaza Strip, was smuggled into Sinai via tunnels from Gaza to train operatives of Sinai Province on how to use sophisticated anti-tank missiles and explosives.

Although Hamas has not confirmed Kishtah’s membership, he is thought to have been a high-ranking official in the group’s Izz ad-din al-Qassam wing and was referred to as such in previous reports on Sky News Arabic and the German publication Der Spiegel. He has also been highlighted as a crucial go-between for Hamas and ISIS in Sinai by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai.

Also yesterday, the ISIS-linked Amaq news agency claimed that Israel carried out three strikes against its Sinai affiliate, specifically in El Arish and Sheikh Zuweid. Israel has not responded on the claims. However, rocket warning sirens were sounded in some southern Israeli communities yesterday morning. No rockets reached Israel, but a projectile is thought to have been fired from Sinai, either at Israel or targeting Egyptian security forces within Sinai.

Since the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 2013, Sinai Province has waged arms against the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, persistently attacking Egyptian military forces in Sinai and inflicting serious casualties.

Although al-Sisi’s government has been the primary target for Sinai Province, the group has also made clear that it is committed to attacking Israel. In July 2016, it was responsible for firing three Grad rockets into Israel.

Both Israel and Egypt have deep concerns over cooperation between Sinai Province and Hamas, who are thought to aid each other via smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border.

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