On Wednesday, in response to incessant rocket fire from Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, including Hamas, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense. The operation began with the targeted killing of Ahmed Jabari, the leader of the Ezzedine al Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.
Since the killing of Jabari, the Israeli Air Force has carried out hundreds of airstrikes throughout the Gaza Strip targeting rocket launch sites, including Fajr 5 missiles; weapons caches; and Hamas’s drone program. Meanwhile, terror groups in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, have launched hundreds of rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel.
As of now, the involvement of Sinai-based Salafi-jihadist groups in the current fighting appears to be limited to nonexistent. However, on Nov. 15, al Salafiyya al Jihadiyya released a statement to jihadist forums, titled “Statement by al-Salafiyya al-Jihadiyya in Sinai Regarding the Unjust Zionist Aggression on Gaza.” The statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
In the statement, the group says that Israel’s latest actions are an attempt “to eliminate the spirit of jihad and resistance of the besieged Palestinian people and to convey a message that their jihad is extremely costly and that surrender is the safest solution for them.” According to the group, “our steadfast Muslim people in honorable Gaza cannot surrender, and the torch of jihad will not be extinguished; rather, instead, it is strengthened by the blood of its heroes and it grows.”
Later in the statement the group says that Muslims “cannot stand silent” and that they must support their “brothers” in Gaza. The group then asks the Egyptian people: “How come we leave our brothers to be killed and driven homeless when they are within one stone-throw away from us?”
Al Salafiyya al Jihadiyya then urges “the Egyptian people to rise up to support their brothers in Gaza, each with whatever means and persons they can, and to ask the government to take deterrent measures against the unjust aggression.” The group also questions why the Egyptian army is not taking more action to help Palestinians in Gaza. “If you cannot defend your brothers and your people in Gaza, at least let those who can do so and do not watch and fight them. So if you do not fight the Jews, [at least] do not be of help to them,” the group says.