Israel again under threat from the Islamic State

An injured colleague of Israeli Border Police officer Shirel Aboukrat at her funeral in Netanya, Israel, March 28, 2022.

By striking the country twice in less than a week, the Islamic State (IS) organization has suddenly reappeared in the daily lives of Israelis. Two border police officers died on the night of Sunday March 27 to Monday March 28 in the coastal town of Hadera and twelve other people were injured.

The two assailants, Israeli Arabs identified by the security services as sympathizers of the Islamic State organization, were killed. Both had previously claimed their attack on behalf of the jihadist group by pledging allegiance to the new head of the organization, according to a short video posted on social networks.

This is the first time that IS has claimed responsibility for an attack on Israeli territory since 2017. Footage from surveillance cameras in Hadera, a town between Tel Aviv and Haifa, shows the two men opening fire in the middle of the street.

Five arrests

Israeli police, who raided several homes overnight in the town where the attackers came from, Umm Al-Fahm, said they had discovered weapons and propaganda material linked to IS. Five people were arrested.

Read also: Israel: two police officers, including a Franco-Israeli, killed in the north of the country during an attack claimed by the Islamic State

But after the attacks in recent days, domestic intelligence services, the Shin Bet in particular, are being criticized for not taking the IS threat seriously. The Hadera attack comes after the one that took place in the south of the country, in Beersheba, on March 22. The assailant, who killed four people with a knife and ramming car, was also identified as an IS sympathizer. He was sentenced in 2016 to four years in prison for planning to travel to Syria to join the group.

“A second attack by IS supporters inside Israel forces security forces to adapt to the new threat,” reacted Monday the Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, calling the “citizens to continue to be vigilant”.

In this feverish climate, voices are rising, on the right, to denounce the supposed laxity of the police, and to call on the Israelis to “take their weapons out of safes”. At the risk of rekindling tensions between communities, less than a year after the spring 2021 crisis, which saw Jewish and Arab Israeli rioters clash in several cities.

Read also Israeli-Palestinian conflict: new clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in East Jerusalem

On Monday, the military authorities reinforced their presence in the West Bank, fearing a contagion effect. Several Palestinian villages, on both sides of the green line, suffered attacks suspected of being reprisals during the night from Sunday to Monday. In certain so-called mixed localities, where Israeli Jewish and Arab citizens live, or even in the Negev, self-defense brigades are created, following the example of the settlers in the West Bank.

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