Security forces of the Hamas Movement arrested the leader of the Iranian-backed Sabireen Movement, Hisham Salim, and many of the group’s fighters in a surprise operation on February 27, according to the al-Arabiya TV.
The Sabireen group was formed in early 2014 after some leaders in Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), including Salim, converted to Shia Islam and became dissatisfied with PIJ’s leadership and their stance as well as Hamas’s stance regarding the Syrian war, where it supported the Syrian Opposition.
Salim acknowledged in an interview with the Ma’an News Agency in 2016 that the movement is directly funded by Iran. However, he stressed that his group was non-sectarian, non-religious and not a “Shiite movement.”
In late 2018, the U.S. designated the Sabireen Movement as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) for carrying several attacks against Israel.
“They planned and executed terrorist attacks include firing rockets into Israel in September 2015 and detonating an explosive device targeting an Israeli army patrol in December 2015. Harakat al-Sabireen also previously established a rocket factory in Gaza that was destroyed in the summer of 2014, and the group had plans to carry out attacks against Israel in February 2016,” the Department of State said in an official statement back then.
The Iranian support for the movement was apparently viewed as a threat not only by the U.S. and Israel, but also by several Arab countries. A Palestinian source told al-Arabiya that the Hamas Movement took the decision to neutralize the group and seize its weapons upon request from Qatar and Egypt.
The operation against the Sabireen Movement will likely lead to the growth of tensions between the Hamas Movement and Iran, who cut down its financial support for the Palestinian group recently, according to al-Arabiya.