Video containing a recording of the will of Fahd Nizar al-Habbash, one of the Gaza Strip residents killed in Syria fighting alongside the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria. The flag of the Al-Nusra Front is visible in the background (YouTube, October 17, 2013)
1. On November 26, 2013, the
2. We estimate the number of volunteers from the Gaza Strip who have joined forces with the rebels at several dozen (around 20-23). Seven of them were killed, including three in suicide attacks (Al-Hayat, November 28, 2013). Most of them belong to Salafist-jihadi organizations and some are former Hamas operatives. 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 Al-Nusra Front and other jihadist organizations.
3. The number of Palestinian volunteers from the Gaza Strip who join the ranks of the rebels is still relatively low, but it has been on the rise over the past year (like the phenomenon of foreign volunteers in general). 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-Qaeda and the global jihad. 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.
4. In our estimation, besides the volunteers from the Gaza Strip there are about 10-15 Arabs from Israel in Syria, along with several dozen Palestinians from Lebanon and Syria and a small number of Palestinians from Judea and Samaria. These figures indicate that this is still not a widespread phenomenon among Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. Nevertheless, as aforesaid, once these volunteers return to their countries, they will represent a potential source of terrorism and subversion.
5. For a summary of information on the phenomenon of Salafist-jihadi volunteers in the Gaza Strip, see Appendix.
According to the
A comprehensive study on the phenomenon of foreign volunteers in general is being conducted by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center and is in its final stages. This will be a follow-up to the in-depth study on the Al-Nusra Front published in September 2013.