October 17, 2023 | Le Figaro

Why the flag found among Hamas equipment isn’t necessarily Islamic State

In the days following Hamas’ horrific attack in Israel, a flag associated with the Islamic State (IS, also known as Daesh) and its defunct counterpart in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) was found among Hamas equipment. Since then, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly compared Hamas to ISIS, and the attack has been paralleled to al-Qaeda’s attack on the US on Sept 11, 2001, and IS’s attack in France in 2015. However, this flag is likely not from Hamas fighters themselves, and despite some ideological similarities, the groups are different.

“The IS hates Hamas,” explained Moustafa Ayad, ISD’s Executive Director of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, to French newspaper Le Figaro. “IS supporters refer to Hamas members as ‘Jews of Jihad'”, he said, adding that IS considers the Gaza-based organisation to be deviant.

IS and Hamas are opposed in their goals: the Islamic State wants to see a “caliphate” state extended around the world, while Hamas’ aims to destroy the State of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state. In the past, the groups have also been on opposite ends of the Syrian conflict, and more closely, in the Egyptian peninsula of Sinai where Hamas have been against a jihadist group of IS.

The black banner with the “seal of the prophet” and the three words “Allah”, “messenger” and “Mohammed” is not exclusive to IS. “There are many versions of this flag,” Moustafa said. It was first used by members of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the predecessors of what later became ISIS. Since then, many groups have used it, including some considered enemies of IS.

It is instead believed that the banner may have appeared in the Israeli kibbutz because of a member of “Jaïch al-Oumma”, a jihadist organisation based in Gaza and more closely aligned to al-Qaeda than IS.

The full article is available in French.