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ISIS at Israel's Gate

ISIS terrorists in Sinai (Photo: wikicommons/Arab Media)

This week we told you about the skirmishes between the IDF and the Islamic State terrorist group which occurred on Israel's border with Syria. Writing at Israel Hayom, Professor Eyal Zisser says that this is a reminder of what many already realized - ISIS is knocking at Israel's door:

The skirmish this week on the southern edge of the Syrian Golan Heights between the Israel Defense Forces and Islamic State terrorists is a reminder for anyone who forgot or ignored the fact that "Islamic State is already here," on Israel's northern border, and has been for over two years.

In December 2014, one of the rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime on the Golan Heights, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, swore allegiance to Islamic State. It has since joined forces with several other rebel groups, and in May 2016 it named this united force the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army. This force serves as Islamic State's southern arm in the border triangle between Israel, Jordan and Syria, in the southern Golan Heights. It controls a swathe of land spanning several hundred kilometers, where tens of thousands of people live.

Like Hezbollah, which maintains a presence in the northern sector of the Golan Heights, Islamic State in the southern sector is preoccupied with more pressing matters than opening a front against Israel. Islamic State fighters are busy battling the Syrian regime, but also other rival rebel groups in the area, some of which have ties with Israel. Thus, Islamic State has preferred to keep a low profile along the border and avoid adding Israel to its ever-growing list of enemies.

For Israel, however, it was always clear that an organization such as Islamic State would eventually exacerbate tensions along the border. After all, if the organization ends its other conflicts with the upper hand, it can turn its attention to Israel; but even if it loses, as is the case these days in northern Iraq and eastern Syria, then it looks to act against Israel in an attempt to win points and boost the waning morale among its supporters...

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