Dozens of Gazans have traveled to Syria to fight with Salafi- jihadi rebels,
according to a report recently released by the Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
“In Syria, the
Salafist-jihadi volunteers from the Gaza Strip are expected to acquire military
experience, ideological training and ties with groups affiliated with al-Qaida
and the global jihad,” the report said.
Although limited, the number of
Gazan volunteers in Syria is growing, the report said. It warned that “upon
their return to the Gaza Strip, they are liable to become a hotbed of terrorism
and subversion against Israel, Egypt and even the Hamas de facto
“We estimate the number of volunteers from the Gaza Strip
who have joined forces with the rebels at several dozen,” the center stated,
adding that seven of them have been killed in fighting with forces loyal to
Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Most of the volunteers belong to
Salafist-jihadi organizations based in Gaza, and some are former Hamas
operatives, the center continued.
“They enter Syria via Turkey [as do
most of the foreign volunteers].
Some ostensibly depart for Saudi Arabia
[for example, under the guise of going on a Hajj] and from there they enter
Syria via Turkey.
In Syria, they usually join the Nusra Front and other
jihadist organizations,” the report stated.
Dr. Reuven Erlich, head of
the center, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Syria has become “an
academy of terrorism,” with some 100 Palestinians are currently in the country
fighting among rebel ranks. Most are from Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh camp southeast
of Sidon and Tripoli, Syria itself, Jordan, and Gaza, Erlich added.
15 to 20 Israeli Arabs, and a handful from the West Bank, are in Syria as well.
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