JERUSALEM — Israel’s police have arrested about 50 ISIS sympathizers in the country following the recent terror attacks in Beersheba and Hadera, which claimed eight lives and were carried out by terrorists who pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Most of them were released shortly after their arrest and questioning and are now under surveillance.
Most recently, Israeli security forces arrested an Arab man from the city of Qalansuwa in the center of the country on April 3 on suspicion of incitement to terrorism and support of ISIS, a proscribed organization in Israel.
The suspect, in his 30s, was found to be in the possession of ISIS flags, rings and other propaganda.
Security tensions in Israel are high, after a series of terror attacks in the Jerusalem area, the murder of four Israelis in Beersheba, the murder of another two in Hadera by Islamist terrorists, and the latest attack in Bnei Brak which left five dead.
There is also concern that these attacks took place just ahead of the Muslim month of Ramadan, which usually spells an uptick in Muslim terrorism in Israel.
The country’s security establishment is bracing for violence, especially as Ramadan coincides with Passover, and following the first anniversary of Operation Guardian of the Walls in May, 2021, which was launched by the IDF following a Hamas rocket attack on Jerusalem that began at the height of the month of Ramadan.
Dr. Asaf Maliach, an expert on radical Islam affiliated with Bar-Ilan University and IDC in Herzliya, said that support for ISIS and actual ISIS involvement in the recent terror attacks must be distinguished.
“Waving ISIS flags is not enough to be accepted into the ranks of the organization, nor is distributing a video in which you make an oath to ISIS,” he said.
“An operation conducted by ISIS or on its behalf is a complex and complicated operation that is not available to just any member of a terrorist organization, including the extremist Islamic ones.”
According to Maliach, membership in ISIS requires a swearing-in ceremony — Ba’a in Arabic — which usually takes place in the presence of an ISIS leader, but in recent years it has also be carried out online.
The recruits will then receive official and written confirmation of their membership in the Islamic State.
Maliach says that he is highly doubtful this happened with the terrorists who committed the recent attacks and who are citizens of a state in Israel.
However, Maliach cautioned, “ISIS may take advantage of the attacks to try and recruit more operatives and prove ISIS activity in the Palestinian arena as well and even to defy al-Qaida.
“In the absence of unequivocal evidence that these are ISIS operatives, the question arises as to whether someone else activated the terrorists, and if so, who?”