Despite Its Involvement in at Least Two Attacks, Islamic State Still Has Little Influence in Israel

Although Hamas seems to bear primary responsibility for the violence on the Temple Mount last Friday, and for some of the terrorist attacks beforehand, these were preceded by two attacks in March perpetrated by Israeli Arabs affiliated with Islamic State (IS). Yoram Schweitzer, Ephraim Lavie, and Meir Elran analyze the two incidents, and the efforts of IS to make inroads in Israel:

An examination of previous . . . Islamic State activity in Israel shows that the organization has not gained a deep hold among the country’s Arab citizens. Since the establishment of Islamic State in 2014, no more than 100 Israeli citizens have been imprisoned for allegiance or any connection to the organization, including those who were arrested following the latest attacks. Thus, in spite of attempts by media identified with IS, primarily al-Naba, its most important publication, to exploit the “success” of the incidents in order to boast of its extensive activity against Israel, the facts show that apart from toxic rhetoric, the organization has not devoted many resources or much attention to planning terrorism in Israel. This also applies to its past actions and those of its allies in other parts of the world.

Even after [last month’s] attacks, there are no signs of a strategic change in IS priorities with regard to Israel. In its current media discourse, the organization continues to highlight its extremely negative attitude toward the Palestinian terrorist organizations of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and toward Hizballah. This has not changed even though these groups praised recent IS-supporting terrorists in Israel, such as the Palestinian from Jenin who carried out the attack in Bnei Brak on March 29. As a rule, IS is careful to condemn strongly these organizations as collaborators with the enemies of Islam; it sees them as heretics and accuses them of helping to block its attempted jihad against Israel over the past decade.

The particularly strong Arab condemnation of the attacks carried out by IS supporters, which they defined as “terrorism,” derives from the fact that Arab society in Israel, as well as the majority of residents in Palestinian Authority areas, including those who support Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are fiercely opposed to IS ideology and its association with the Palestinian national struggle.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: ISIS, Israeli Arabs, Palestinian terror

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security