The Egyptian wing of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has declared war on Hamas for failing to stop President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, in a new propaganda video released Wednesday that purports to show the execution of a man who ISIS claims worked with the Palestinian militant group’s armed wing. The nationality of the man is unclear.
The video aims to ratchet up tensions between the two radical Islamist groups. In July 2015, ISIS released a video saying that it would overthrow Gaza’s “tyrants” for their perceived lack of religious fervour and lack of religious rulings in the coastal enclave.
Wednesday’s video shows a man on his knees in an orange jumpsuit, similar to those forced upon American and British hostages killed by the group in Syria in 2014. Masked and armed men stand behind him, others are unmasked and stand in robes.
“Never surrender to them. Use explosives, silenced pistols, and sticky bombs. Bomb their courts and their security locations, for these are the pillars of tyranny that prop up its throne,” said one of the militants, who is seen holding a knife.
Another militant steps forward and is shown shooting the man dead. The video says ISIS would defeat Hamas for allowing Trump to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, as well as for its crackdown on small Salafi groups in Gaza.
The propaganda video shows images of ex-leader of Hamas Khaled Meshaal, who stepped down in April, alongside Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran has backed Hamas in recent years, arming its missile stocks and funding its tunnel network in the coastal enclave that reached into Israeli territory.
Hamas has fought three wars with Israel, the last in 2014, but the group appears to be stepping away from a fourth round of conflict over the announcement of President Donald Trump to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the contested city that hosts some of the holiest shrines in both Islam and Judaism. Hamas has attributed recent rocket fire from Gaza into Israeli territory to Salafi groups, some who are sympathetic to ISIS and opposed to Hamas’ rule.
The U.S. and European Union have designated Hamas as an extremist organization. Israel’s far-right frequently compares the group to ISIS for its radical interpretation of Islam that stops short of calling for Sharia law. The group, like ISIS, has carried out public executions on the streets of Gaza by gunfire but says it does so for collaboration with Israel, its arch-enemy.
ISIS’s Egyptian wing, known as the Sinai Province, is arguably ISIS’s most brutal and effective affiliate outside of Iraq and Syria. It is responsible for the Sinai plane crash in October 2015 that killed all 224 passengers on board. In November, it claimed the mass murder of more than 300 people at a Sufi mosque in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the deadliest attack in modern Egyptian history.
Its members, which number in the thousands, include Al-Qaeda defectors, jihadis from Gaza, and Egyptian radical Islamists who have returned from conflict zones in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
Hamas does not have an official presence in the Sinai and, in spite of the rhetoric of its propaganda output, ISIS and its supporters have a minute presence in the Gaza Strip, a territory that Hamas has controlled since it routed Fatah forces in 2007. Israel and Egypt also control the crossings in and out of the territory, although smuggling tunnels have long operated along its borders. Several Gazans have managed to leave the Gaza Strip and join ISIS's ranks in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS has not aligned itself with Palestinian aim of obtaining a sovereign state that encompasses east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Rather, it seeks to fly its black flag and impose a brutal ultraconservative form of radical Islam over the entire region. The main focus of its relatively infrequent references to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been Jerusalem and its vow to "liberate" the city from Israel and "kill the barbaric Jews."