In the four groups' statements, they mention that they targeted "Jewish settlements" (actually Israeli cities) Eshkol, Sderot, Netivot, Ashkelon, Kissufim, and Karmia, each location on a number of occasions. Further, MSM released four videos and JI published one video both showing members of their organizations launching rockets from Gaza and the Sinai toward Israel. In addition to Gaza-based jihadis, there were also unconfirmed though likely reports from al-Qaeda's forums that members of al-Salafiyya al-Jihadiyya in the Sinai infiltrated Gaza and joined in the fight with MSM as well as JABM.
This thoroughfare between the Sinai and Gaza amongst jihadis highlights the growing nexus of terror emanating from the two locations. The destabilization of the Sinai after the 2011 Egyptian uprising has helped Gazan jihadis regroup after suppression at the hands of Hamas when jihadis in the past attempted to challenge Hamas' power in the Gaza Strip.
Therefore, it is possible that if Hamas attempts to implement the new ceasefire, Gaza-based jihadis will further embed themselves in the Northern Sinai safe haven. And while tensions have flared between Hamas and the various jihadi factions in Gaza since Hamas took power, Hamas has also looked the other way following the 2008-2009 war when different jihadis launched rockets into Israel. Both possibilities do not bode well for the sustainability of the ceasefire. Further, a recent analysis by a popular jihadi essayist suggests Gazan jihadis feel slighted by Hamas and PIJ's lack of recognition in their recent efforts in the conflict. As such, these jihadis might attempt to derail the ceasefire.
To be sure, these smaller jihadi groups did not have a large role in the rocket output in the most recent conflict, accounting for about only 6.5 percent of the rockets launched. Yet it shows the potential for them to play a spoiler role in the coming months and years. For instance, between January and October this year, prior to the escalation, various jihadi groups claimed responsibility for 46 rocket attacks, which if one goes by Israeli sources for those tens months, suggests that jihadis accounted for 7.5 percent of the attacks. As a result, if Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades and Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- which accounted for the majority of rocket attacks prior to and during the recent conflict -- hold to the truce, jihadis could fill this potential "resistance" vacuum. It could also provide Hamas cover in terms of plausible deniability.
Moreover, the Sinai has not only become a safe haven for Sinai and Gazan jihadis, but also an important smuggling route for heavier weapons from Iran, including the Fajr 3 and Fajr 5 rockets, which come up from Sudan. Likewise, the Sinai has become a bazaar for smaller arms coming from the new weapons black market in Libya. As a result, the stability of the Sinai is crucial in staving off another conflict or at the very least postponing it. The Egyptian government's interdiction of arms coming from Libya yesterday provides welcome and potentially positive signs that Cairo is willing to take on this responsibility.