Report: Dozens of Gazans fighting with jihadi groups in Syria

Tel Aviv-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center says number of Palestinians in Syria is growing; warns their return to Gaza is liable to create hotbed for terrorism, subversion against Israel.

Nusra Front Fighters 370 (photo credit: reuters)
Nusra Front Fighters 370
(photo credit: reuters)
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 government.”
“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.
Some 15 to 20 Israeli Arabs, and a handful from the West Bank, are in Syria as well.