ISIS directly threatened the state of Israel for the first time Saturday, potentially inserting itself in the protracted war in Palestine as an active player.
In no uncertain terms, the Islamic extremist group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released a social media audio statement that promised a war in Palestine against Israel and the Jewish people. ISIS, the message revealed, is putting specific emphasis on the contested area in its efforts to gain control in the region, reported The Times of Israel.
“Israel will pay a heavy price at the hands of our fighters… Palestine will not be your land or your home. It will be a graveyard for you. Allah has gathered you in Palestine so that the Muslims may kill you… The Jews thought that we forgot about Palestine and diverted our attention from it. Never, Jews. We have not forgotten Palestine for a moment. The leaders of the jihad fighters will surround you on a day you think is far, but we see it as close. We are coming closer to you day by day.”
While this is ISIS’ first explicit threat against the state of Israel in Palestine, leaders of Daesh have also previously made bellicose promises to attack the Jewish people. In October earlier this year, a separate video was released — which has since been deleted — which called for violent attacks against Jews.
“I recommend that you take the path of Jihad, which God tells you to follow, I bless this jihad against the Jews. Strike fear in their hearts, they are the enemies of God.”
Still, it’s difficult to say that the goals of ISIS in Palestine are in direct accordance with the Arab people’s own agenda. In an exploration of Daesh’s objectives for Gaza and beyond, Foreign Affairs noted that the major controlling powers of Palestine — Hamas and Fatah — are not Salafi jihadists, and, as such, have always had a somewhat antagonistic relationship with such organizations, beginning with Al-Qaeda.
“The ‘infidel’ Palestinian governments of Fatah and Hamas are blamed for the stalled liberation of these holy places, the lack of popular uprising, and un-Islamic rule. In a recent ISIS video, a fighter explains that ISIS does not differentiate between the rule of Israel and the rule of the murtadin(apostates; rejecters, namely Fatah and Hamas). The fighter explicitly states that ISIS’ cause is not about land but about Islamic rule in Palestine. The first step in achieving this, he says, is reclaiming the Palestinian narrative, which failed under the banners of Pan-Arabism and secular nationalism.”
That’s not necessarily an indication that ISIS hasn’t managed to gain some support among Palestinians with its grandiose language about war with Israel. A poll conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies found that 24 percent of Palestinians held a positive or somewhat positive view of Daesh, but that still left 72 percent with a negative view. Overall, those numbers are slightly higher than the rest of the Arab region, where 85 percent of those surveyed said that they stood against the work of the Islamic State. When asked about Arab involvement in the military campaign to combat ISIS, Palestinians were the group who offered the lowest level of support, at 50 percent, reported Haaretz.
In the face of such division, it’s uncertain how ISIS’ threat of war on the state of Israel in Palestine will be received by those living there.
[Image via Ebrahim Noroozi/AP Photo]