Islamic State And Hizb Ut-Tahrir Reach The Temple Mount In Jerusalem

The month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan is behind us, having ended with the traditional Eid al-Fitr feast.

Many people will not see another Ramadan after the Islamic State unleashed a wave of terror attacks across the globe during the fast.

Some of the attacks predicted by the Islamic State at the outset of Ramadan didn’t materialize, such as the attack on the United States.

Another country that was on the ISIS list of targets was Israel; but Ramadan came and went and the predicted large-scale attack didn’t take place. Israel did, however, witness a surge in Palestinian terror during Ramadan.

Tzvi Yehezkieli, the Middle East expert of Israeli TV Channel 10, investigated what the relation is between incitement in Israeli and Palestinian mosques and the increase in terror attacks during Ramadan. He came to the conclusion that the influence of the Islamic State ideology is growing in Israeli mosques and discovered that the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount has been turned into an Islamist bulwark dominated by Hamas, the Islamic State, and Hizb ut-Tahrir.

His documentary, titled “Every Muslim Was Born to Become a Jihadist,” was broadcast on Channel 10 two days ago.

At the end of the documentary (in Hebrew and Arabic), images can be seen that were taken on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem after the Friday prayer services during Ramadan. A large crowd displays Hamas and Islamic State flags and chants, “Jihad is our way and death for Allah is more important than anything else.” (Images start at 14:50.)

During sermons at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Muslim clerics can be seen promoting jihad, the display of Islamic State flags by Muslims, and the expulsion of Jews from Israel. One cleric predicted that the Muslim armies will conquer Rome, Constantinople, London, and Washington. “Islam will rule over every place on earth,” the cleric proclaimed.

Another one shouted, “The Muslims, also the ones who are not soldiers, built Daesh (Islamic State) and other armies. Every Muslim is born to become a jihadist. Jihad is the essence of the Islamic nation.”

A third one said that it is not a given that there is a Jewish state and that the day will come that the Muslim nations will swallow that “monstrous” and “bleak” entity.

“At the end of days there will be a war between our people and (the sons of) Israel in the Holy Land, and in that war the trees and the stones will speak and say: ‘Oh Muslim there is a Jew behind that tree, let’s kill him,’” another Imam lectured.

Yehezkieli (who speaks fluent Arabic) explained that what he saw in the Al-Aqsa Mosque was more extreme than in any other mosque he visited during Ramadan. He said Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has an ideology similar to that of the Islamic State, was controlling the mosques and the daily affairs on the Temple Mount.

“In general we can conclude – based on what we saw in the fifteen mosques – that the ideology of Hamas (and Hizb ut-Tahrir) is on the rise in the mosques in Israel and the territories under Palestinian control and those mosques that were already under the influence of Hamas are now adopting the Islamic State ideology,” Yehezkieli said. “The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the only place in Israel and the territories under Palestinian control where Muslims openly talk about the Islamic State and jihad. On Fridays you can see here the black flags of Daesh (ISIS) on the place where the Temple stood in Jerusalem.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Islamic State Attacks Israel From Egypt, Tries To Expand Caliphate To Sinai

ANALYSIS

Southern Israel was again attacked with rockets on Friday–but this time, they did not come from Gaza.

Islamic State branch Walayat Sinai (Sinai Province) claimed responsibility for the firing of three Grad rockets at Israel. At 4.20 PM on Friday, sirens went off in southern Israel; and residents sped to their security rooms. A short time later, three rockets exploded in open fields. No damage and casualties were reported.

The attack came at a moment when the Egyptian authorities claimed that the situation in Sinai was under control again after the Islamic State assault on the Egyptian army Wednesday. Sixty-four soldiers, as well as 90 Islamist fighters, died in a wave of attacks on army checkpoints and positions in the Sinai Peninsula.

On Saturday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that the assault was, in fact, an attempt to seize territory and to set up an extremist state in Sinai.

He said that Valiyat Sinai had tried to announce “an Islamic state, in their concept, an Islamic State in Sinai. These are the messages, very simply, that they are putting out to us.”

He then added that the area was now under the control of the army again. Al-Sisi praised the army for “foiling a very big plan.”

“No one can impose on the Egyptians something they don’t want. To reach the Egyptians they have to pass through the army, the sons of Egypt,” he said.

On Sunday, it became clear that the battle in Sinai is far from over. The Egyptian newspaper al-Yom al-Sabah reported that the Egyptian security forces were conducting heavy anti-ISIS operations in northern Sinai. Apache helicopters and infantry took part in the operation against Wayilat Sinai.

Reuters later reported the Egyptian army killed 63 members of Walayat Sinai during the operation in the area of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai. A spokesman for the Egyptian army claimed that 241 terrorists were killed as of Wednesday.

Earlier, the Egyptian army cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood after it accused the organization of cooperation with Islamic State to destabilize Egypt. In a raid on Wednesday evening, the army killed nine prominent Brotherhood members. This led to a call to the public by the Muslim Brotherhood to “rise in revolt to defend your homeland.”

The young members of the movement think the time has come to use terrorism to undermine al-Sisi’s regime. The new spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammad Montasser, even called for “a revolution that would decapitate heads.”

In the short term, it is unlikely that the current leadership will openly join the young members in the violent struggle. Such a move would cost the movement the support of the current U.S. administration, and probably Turkey.

It is clear, however, that the Muslim Brotherhood is changing direction in Egypt. The old Muslim Brotherhood that sought to establish its goals by non-violent means is dying and has lost the support of the Egyptian people after the mismanagement of the country during Mohammad Morsi’s presidency. Most of the Brotherhood’s leaders have been arrested since the military coup and are now in jail again. Some of them (Including Morsi) are facing the death penalty.

So in the long term, we can expect Muslim Brotherhood members to join ISIS in Egypt.

Something similar is happening now in Gaza, where Hamas is losing support and is slowly starting to realize that Islamic State is threatening its thus-far uncontested rule.

On Friday, senior Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk admitted for the first time that ISIS has a presence in Gaza. In an interview with Al Quds TV, Marzouk responded to a recent video from Islamic State in Syria in which ISIS threatened to take over Gaza.

“Why do they want to turn Gaza into a sea of blood, and what capabilities does this group have to threaten like this?” Marzouk asked. He ridiculed the power of the group in Gaza and claimed that Hamas would stamp out ISIS soon. Marzouk said that ISIS has only dozens of supporters in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli experts, however think that ISIS’ presence in Gaza is much larger than what Marzouk claims. They estimate that Islamic State has at least hundreds of members in Gaza, and some even say that the organization already has a few thousand members or affiliated terrorists.

Israel is slowly coming to terms with the new reality on its southern border but is not so sure that Hamas is against the rise of Islamic State in Gaza and Sinai.

The head of the IDF division that deals with Gaza, Maj.Gen. Yoav Mordechai, told Al-Jazeera News that the IDF has acquired intelligence about Hamas’ support for ISIS activities in Sinai. He said that Hamas is providing weaponry and other support to Wilayat Sinai and that it smuggled wounded ISIS fighters into Gaza to give them medical treatment. Mordechai added that Hamas commander Abdullah Kishta is training Islamic State terrorists in Sinai and that the IDF has solid proof of this direct support for ISIS by Hamas.

The IDF is currently beefing up its presence on the southern border near Northern Sinai and is monitoring the fighting in Sinai, according to Israel Radio.

The Israeli Army knows that the day is approaching when Wayalat Sinai will turn its weapons to Israel. As Wednesday’s coordinated string of attacks on the Egyptian army and Friday’s rockets on Israel showed, Islamic State in Sinai is building up its military capabilities and is already in the possession of heavy weapons.

In the long run, Israel can expect more cross-border attacks and missiles on a daily basis. These attacks will constitute a double-edged sword for the Islamic State affiliate. It will put more pressure on Israel and make life unbearable in the Israeli communities along the border; and on the other hand, it could drive a wedge in the excellent relations between the IDF and the Egyptian army. The IDF cannot afford to sit on its hands when Islamic State attacks Israel from Gaza, but the Egyptians will not tolerate Israeli counterattacks on its soil.

So a year after the Third Gaza War ended, Israel is gearing up for the next confrontation in the south.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Meet Israel’s New Partner In The Battle Against The Islamic State

Analysis

The rising threat of the Islamic State across the Middle East has resulted in unlikely cooperation between sworn enemies.

Yesterday, for example, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq had launched airstrikes on ISIS positions during a battle between the Islamic State and the Islamist coalition that is led by Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. This appears to be one of the changes in U.S. strategy against the Islamic State after the group seized the Iraqi city of Ramadi, close to Baghdad, and the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

But there’s more.

After last week’s surge in rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza – on Saturday, Islamic State supporters in Gaza launched another rocket on southern Israel – Israel suddenly appeared to realize that it should not do ISIS’ bidding and weaken Hamas by launching a major operation to stop the renewed rocket attacks from Gaza.

Israeli commentators have pointed out that the goal of the Islamic State’s actions in Gaza is to destabilize the situation to the point that the Hamas regime collapses. So when Israel was attacked again on Saturday evening, the Israeli Air Force uncharacteristically responded by bombing empty buildings in the Gaza strip.

A high ranking IDF official explained why “the purpose of the recent rocket launches from the Gaza Strip was to inflame matters between Hamas and Israel.” He added that the Islamic State expected that “Israel would attack Hamas and do its work for it.”

From the words of this anonymous official, it becomes clear that for Israel, Hamas is no longer the number one threat emanating from Gaza. The government in Jerusalem seems to prefer Hamas’ rule in Gaza to a possible coup by the Salafist groups that have sworn alliance to the Islamic State.

Bringing down Hamas in Gaza would not serve Israel’s strategic interests at this point. Although Hamas is the same Hamas that has vowed to destroy Israel, it is at least the devil Israel knows. The Islamic State is fighting according to its own set of rules that are quite unique in the history of warfare. The organization does all sorts of things that have nothing to do with conventional warfare, or even with terrorism as we knew it thus far.

So Israel is now working to keep Hamas in the Gaza Strip for the time being. Times of Israel analyst Avi Issacharoff pointed out that Israel is currently working with Hamas’ allies, Turkey and Qatar, to restore calm in the Gaza Strip and allow mediation between it and Hamas.

There have been reports for months now about secret talks between Hamas and Israel via foreign mediators about a long term truce in Gaza.

“Israel is allowing Qatar a foothold in the Gaza Strip through Mohammed Al-Emadi, the Qatari ambassador to Gaza, and allowing Turkey to be involved in the Palestinian issue as well. A little more than three weeks ago, Israel let Turkish religious affairs minister Mehmet Görmez visit Gaza with a high-ranking delegation. (The group also went to the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and received a warm reception. When Jordanian Chief Justice Sheikh Ahmed Halil visited there, worshipers threw shoes at him.),” Issacharoff wrote.

He asked why Israel is not trying – via the Americans – to bring back the Palestinian Authority to Gaza. This question is best answered by Italian foreign policy analyst Benedetti Berti. She wrote that the Salafist movement in Gaza is on the rise and is influenced by the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate in Syria and Iraq last year.

“This has created a number of challenges for Hamas, which is already struggling to address severe economic issues in Gaza. The much-hoped-for relief that was supposed to arrive following the announcement of the unity government in spring 2014 has not materialized, and the pre-existing economic crisis has been further exacerbated by the damage inflicted on Gaza by the summer 2014 war with Israel and the glacial pace of reconstruction. Hamas has been largely unable to pay for the salaries of its more than 40,000 employees, leading to growing dissatisfaction within Gaza and recurring and more extended strikes,” Berti wrote.

All this plays into the hands of the supporters of the Islamic State and will contribute to the rise of the organization in Gaza, where the tide has been turning ever since Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

The rise of Hamas in Gaza was a sign of the times. Palestinian society has been influenced by Islamism for a long time now, and the only reason the Palestinian Authority is still in charge of the so called West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is the presence of the IDF. That’s why the PA always threatens to end security cooperation with Israel but never carries out these threats. The Palestinian Authority exists by the grace of outside players, the donors in the West and the Arab world, and by the presence of the Israeli army. If free elections were to be held tomorrow, Hamas would win and take over the West Bank.

In Gaza, the situation is different; the population has been living under the rule of an Islamist organization for years, and society has become more Islamist as a result. Under these circumstances, it would be unrealistic to expect that the unpopular Palestinian Authority could reverse this process and lead Gaza to prosperity and moderation. After all, Palestinians voted Hamas into power in 2006 because of rampant corruption in the PA; and since then, the situation has not changed for the better.

So for now, Israel and Hamas share an interest. Both parties don’t want the Islamic State to take over Gaza and turn it into a province of the Caliphate.

In light of this, it is interesting to note that the Egyptians too have suddenly changed their approach to Hamas. On Saturday, an Egyptian court ruled that Hamas should be taken off the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s list of terrorist organizations. Another Egyptian court had labeled Hamas a terrorist group in February, one month after a similar ruling against its military wing, Izz ad-Din al Qassam. The ruling was welcomed by Hamas and will ease Egyptian pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot in Gaza.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

What ISIS Just Did To Israel Could Be A TOTAL Game Changer For The Entire Region (Scary)

A new terrorist group in Gaza that claims to be part of the Islamic State launched three short-range rockets at southern Israel on Wednesday evening. The group, named “Sheikh Amir Hadad Brigades,” issued a statement after the attack in which it said it would continue to attack the Jews and jihad against Israel – whether or not Hamas approved – and that the next attack would come within hours.

That attack didn’t happen, perhaps because of the retaliation by the Israeli Air Force, which responded by bombing three military targets in Gaza in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The ISIS-affiliated group said the jihad against the Jews is a religious obligation, because they are the “enemies of Allah,” and that no one could stop them. The attack on Israel was an act of revenge for the killing of an Islamic State member in Gaza by Hamas, the group said.

As Western Journalism reported yesterday, the group had issued a 48-hour ultimatum demanding that Hamas stop its crackdown on the Islamic State and allow the group to attack Israel from Gaza. The same group claimed responsibility for last week’s rocket attack on the Israeli city of Gan Yavne, east of Ashdod.

Hamas, however, ignored the ultimatum and killed Younis al-Honnor, a local ISIS leader, in a shootout in Sheikh Radwan in the northern part of Gaza City yesterday. The man had booby trapped his house and Hamas later found suicide belts in the building.

Al-Honnor was later buried in the black flag of the Islamic State.

Hamas started its crackdown on Islamic State terrorist cells in Gaza after the assassination of top Hamas commander Saber Siam on Sunday by another ISIS-affiliated group named the “Army of the Islamic State.”

Siam was killed, the group said, because he was “a partner in a declared war against religion and against Muslims, working for the heretical government in Gaza.”

ISIS in Gaza says Hamas is waging a war on religion in Gaza and must change its ways or face the consequences. The group also sent text messages warning Gaza residents to stay away from Hamas buildings and offices lest they die in new attacks against Hamas.

Shortly after the three rockets landed in open fields in Sdot Negev in southern Israel, IAF warplanes struck three targets affiliated with Hamas.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office issued a statement in which it said it “views the incident gravely” and that the responsibility for the attack falls on Hamas.

The limited retaliation by the IDF shows that Israel is not interested in another war in Gaza. The same goes for Hamas, which is still reeling from the war in the summer of 2014 and needs time to build up its military capacity. However, the presence of Islamic State-affiliated groups in Gaza could shatter the fragile truce between Hamas and Israel, and continuing attacks will almost certainly push both sides down the slippery slope to war. Islamic State is now threatening Israel from three fronts.

As Western Journalism reported yesterday, ISIS’s forces are advancing in the direction of the Israeli border on the Syrian Golan Heights. In the south, the Islamist terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which swore allegiance to the Islamic State in December last year, has set up camp in the Sinai desert and threatened last week to fire missiles on the Israeli resort town of Eilat. In Gaza, the Islamic State is winning support and has now attacked Israel for the second time in one week.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Israeli TV: Islamic State Is Approaching Israeli Border On Golan Heights

Today, Israeli TV Channel 2 reported that Islamic State is approaching the Israeli border on the Golan Heights. ISIS forces are now only 40 miles from Kuneitra, Channel 2 News reported at 12.00 PM local time. ISIS is advancing in the direction of Israel from the Druze Mountains along the Jordanian border.

Until now, Islamic State has not launched the expected massive assault on the Druze villages, but seems to be heading for the Syrian Golan Heights instead. Israeli commentators pointed out today that both Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State launched attacks on the Druze villages in southern Syria, and some of them are already under the control of the Islamists.

Or Heller of Channel 10 News reported that Druze on the Israeli Golan Heights requested a meeting with IDF officials yesterday to discuss the extremely difficult situation of the Druze on the other side of the border in Syria. Many Druze in the villages on the Golan Heights have relatives in Syria.

The meeting between Druze leaders and IDF officials was held today. The Druze requested to open the border to let Syrian Druze flee from Syria if Islamic State decides to capture the Druze village of El Khader on the Syrian Golan Heights. IDF officials responded by saying that the Israeli army would not allow Islamic State to commit a massacre among the Druze on the Syrian Golan Heights, but declined to promise opening the border for Druze refugees at this stage.

A Druze man from the village of Magdel Shams on the Israeli Golan Heights told Western Journalism that the Druze in Israel fear for the lives of their relatives in Syria and that contacting those relatives has become virtually impossible. Many Syrian Druze do not want to be in contact with their family in Israel anymore out of fear that Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra will take reprisal measures, the man reported, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The report about the ISIS advance in southern Syria came after Channel Two News’ veteran Middle East commentator Ehud Yaari predicted that the end of the Assad regime in Syria is now near. Yaari is regarded as one of the best informed Middle East experts of the Israeli media.

The Syrian rebels and the ISIS forces have enjoyed a series of accomplishments lately, Yaari said; and Assad has not been in worse shape since the cruel civil war began four years ago. The forces opposing him have made advances in the north, south, and east; his military force is dwindling; and his ability to deal with the challenges facing him is “very limited, he added.

Assad has lost the ability to move his forces from one front to another and has sustained heavy losses, according to the expert. “Iran has sent Shi’ite militias from Iraq and Afghanistan to assist the Syria army, but these have not shown a meaningful fighting ability. Meanwhile, Hezbollah has not been able to make meaningful advances in the Kalamoun Mountain area, despite heavy fighting,” Yaari claimed. Hezbollah had earlier announced that it is in full control of the Qalamoun Mountains east of the Lebanese border.

The Syrian army is fighting on five fronts, according to Yaari:

  • Haska: ISIS is attacking the northeastern provincial city and is only five kilometers away from it.
  • Aleppo: the largest Syrian city is under attack by both ISIS and the rebels. ISIS has taken control of the supply route that leads to Turkey, in the northwestern part of Syria.
  • Homs: rebels are attacking the city that has been dubbed ‘the Capital of the Revolution.’
  • Druze Mountain: ISIS is at the outskirts of the plateau next to the border with Jordan.
  • Daraa: the ‘capital of the South,’ next to the Jordanian border, is coming under heavy rebel attack.

Assad will soon have to make “a difficult decision that will determine how the rest of the fighting will proceed,” Yaari claimed. According to some reports, the Syrian top command is preparing a plan for digging itself in at several holdouts in the west of the country.

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, declared Wednesday that his country “will stand by the nation and government in Syria until the end of the road.”

Yesterday, Western Journalism reported that the Iranian commander of the Al-Quds Brigades of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard had announced a surprise move by Iran in Syria to take place in the coming days. His comments came after a Shiite militia that is close to the regime in Tehran released a report on the Iranian war effort in Syria in which the group demanded that Iran deploy 50,000 Iranian soldiers in Syria to rescue the regime of President Assad.

Meanwhile, Islamic State in Gaza issued a warning today it would attack Israel with rockets if Hamas would not halt its crackdown on ISIS supporters. The group released a video that supposedly shows the launch of the rocket that hit Israel last week.

The video, with an ISIS flag in the upper left corner, shows a rocket and a launcher burrowed in the sand. The next scene contains footage of the rocket being launched, followed by Arabic news reports about the attack.

The video was produced under the banner of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which represents ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula and now has a foothold in Gaza. The Gaza branch calls itself the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade. This group was responsible for assassinating a senior Hamas commander on Sunday.

A leader of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in Gaza said if Hamas does not cease its crackdown, the group will not only continue to target Hamas; it will also break the Israel-Gaza truce with more attacks launched against the Jewish state.

WND News was the first medium that published the video and apparently believed Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis’ claim that this was the missile fired at the Israeli city of Gan Yavne, some 45 miles north of Gaza. The rocket in the video, however, is smaller than a Hamas-made Qassam rocket that has a range of 20 miles

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth