By Harleen Gambhir, Analyst, Institute for the Study of War
ISIS escalated efforts to inspire terror attacks in Israel over the past week, through digital and possibly in-person recruitment. The organization released a wave of 10 propaganda videos between October 17 and 20 inciting Muslims in Israel and Palestine to attack Israelis, Fatah, Hamas. ISIS is exploiting a growing sectarian conflict in Jerusalem focused on access to the Al Aqsa mosque, a significant religious site for Jews and Muslims. Protests in late September regarding Israel’s limitations on Palestinian access to the mosque fueled a recent surge in violent attacks. At least 8 Israelis and 50 Palestinians have been killed in 39 incidents over October, several involving stabbing attacks by Palestinians on Israelis. ISIS referenced the stabbings in its outreach, urging supporters to also consider “explosive devices” and running over enemies.
ISIS’s outreach attempts have resonated with some Israeli Arab individuals. Israel’s state-run television station claimed on October 21 that ISIS-linked operatives are recruiting Israeli Arab students attending foreign universities in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. ISIS has already recruited several individuals in Israel since 2014 to fight and live with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and has inspired a group of supporters to attack Israeli soldiers. Israel also convicted a group of Arab citizens, including four teachers, in July 2015 for allegedly promoting ISIS’s ideology to students. ISIS released its first video by a Hebrew-speaker on October 22, in which a fighter threatened the destruction of Israel’s borders, echoing ISIS’s frequent refrain about overturning state borders. Inflamed conflict between Israeli and Palestinian citizens likely will facilitate radicalization and recruitment, potentially enabling ISIS to resource the attacks it is already encouraging.
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