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Terrorists in 2 Deadly Attacks in Israel Affiliated With Islamic State
Israeli security forces gather at the site of an attack that left two Israeli police dead in the northern city of Hadera on March 27, 2022. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images)

Terrorists in 2 Deadly Attacks in Israel Affiliated With Islamic State

Despite the common thread of the two attacks that took place in under a week, experts say it does not mean the ISIS threat on Israel is growing

Two deadly terror attacks have taken place in Israel in less than a week.

The first attack occurred last Tuesday in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, and it was executed by a member of the local Bedouin community, who used a knife to kill four people and wound two more.

The second attack took place on Sunday in the city of Hadera in northern Israel, where two gunmen who were citizens of the Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm shot and killed two police officers, and wounded five other people.

Oz Noy, a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at Reichman University in Herzliya, told The Media Line that the approach of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan usually brings with it increased attacks based on ideological or religious motives.

The Israel Police said in a statement on Monday that it is “currently completing its preparations for the month of Ramadan, which will begin in the coming days. The preparation includes operational planning for a wide deployment of police officers and reinforcement of forces as required, and in accordance with orderly situation assessments.”

The second attack also came at the start of the Negev Summit, a gathering of foreign ministers from Israel and its fellow Abraham Accords countries, Noy noted.

“I think that both the attackers were motivated by a deep and wide ideology,” Noy said. “I believe this summit was the trigger” for the second attack, he added.

In both cases, the terrorists had a link to the Islamic State.

A second attack by Islamic State supporters in Israel requires the security forces to adapt quickly to a new threat, and they have

The assailant in the first attack was Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, from the Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev. He was convicted in the past for plotting to join the fundamentalist Islamic State organization in Syria.

The second attack was carried out by two cousins from Umm al-Fahm, a city in the north of Israel. One of the men was jailed in 2016 attempting to join ISIS. He was arrested in Turkey on his way to Syria.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks and said that the attackers were members of their organization, in a statement released on the organization’s Amaq news website.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pointed out the common ground between the two attacks in a statement to reporters.

“A second attack by Islamic State supporters in Israel requires the security forces to adapt quickly to a new threat, and they have,” said Bennett after the attack in Hadera on Sunday.

However, experts believe that the fact that in both cases the terrorists had links to the Islamic State, does not mean that its threat is greater now.

Noy explained that the peak of the phenomenon of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians joining ISIS or adopting its ideology came at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.

And even then, he said, “we had a few dozens of activists a year. That is the scale of the phenomenon in the Arab sector in Israel. Since then, it has been decreasing to a few occasions a year.”

Noy said that because both attackers were acting out of ISIS ideology, they are getting wider coverage in the media. But, he added, “it doesn’t mean that the phenomenon is as big as the attention it has received.”

Dr. Eyal Pinko, an expert in intelligence, cyber and national security, and a retired commander in Israel’s Navy, told The Media Line that he also believes the ISIS threat is not as significant as it has been made out to be in the wake of the two attacks.

“I think that the ISIS threat to Israel is not new,” said Pinko.

The experts said that the Islamic State’s threat to Israel has not gotten worse, even after these two attacks.

“As far as I know, I don’t see any change on the ISIS threat to Israel,” said Noy. “The Islamic State’s influence is decreasing more and more but, still, there are a few dozens of activists in Israel who have adopted the ISIS ideology.”

However, concerning yesterday’s attackers, he said: “We know for sure that they didn’t join ISIS lately. They adopted its ideology at least since 2016. We also know that both of them were under the Shin Bet radar two years ago because of ISIS activity. They are not new activists.”

Noy stressed that most Israeli Arabs and Palestinians who follow ISIS are doing so through social media platforms and due to active recruitment.

Buying weapons in the Arab sector in Israel is not very complicated; you just need the money, a lot of money

What is rare about the last attack, Noy said, is that the assailants “had a huge variety of weapons; they had a knife, handguns, rifles, a lot of ammunition. It is very unusual. I don’t remember seeing this amount of weapons in one single attack.”

Another unusual fact Noy noticed is that the attackers did not use improvised weapons; rather, the weapons had official production serial numbers. “I calculate all these weapons and ammunition cost the attackers around 160,000 shekels,” he said.

This does not mean that the attackers were not acting alone, as obtaining these kinds of weapons within the Arab Israeli sector is very simple.

“Buying weapons in the Arab sector in Israel is not very complicated; you just need the money, a lot of money,” Noy said.

Pinko pointed out that there is a large variety of weapons available to buy illegally in Israel, a result of armament smuggling, principally coming from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“The weapons are in Israel, many times they are smuggled from Egypt. You can find weapons of every kind,” he said.

On Monday morning, three suspects accused of contributing to the Hadera attack were arrested by the Israel Police in Umm al-Fahm,.

The Media Line spoke to the Major of Umm al-Fahm, Samir Mahamed, who said that the Arab Israeli leadership, including the city of Umm al-Fahm, condemns the attacks.

“To our reckoning, murder is murder, and it is invalid and not accepted by us no matter where,” Mahamed told The Media Line. “The situation is complicated, and we need to say that we oppose those actions,” he continued.

Mahamed explained that following the attack executed by residents of his city, he rushed to act in order to prevent these events from ever happening again.

“We are trying to improve the situation through education. I am asking all the teachers to speak about the events, to speak about tolerance. Today we are also meeting the imams at the mosques to do the same,” he said.

“We will try to do more and more to give our children hope,” Mahamed concluded.

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