Is Israel now in the crosshairs of ISIS? Ansar al-Maqdis, an affiliate of ISIS in Sinai has posted a warning on its web site threatening to carry out a 'mega-terror attack on Eilat in the coming days'. Eilat is Israel's port on the Red Sea, which is also a very popular tourist town. The al-Maqdis terrorists, who are now engaged in a bloody war with the Egyptian Army, have sworn allegiance to ISIS and are obviously taking their orders from Islamic State. Channel 1 TV opened its evening newscast with three reports on the possible threat. A senior IDF commander in Eilat said his forces are always prepared to cope with suicide bombers or attempts to crash through Israel's security fence along the Sinai border. The Israeli Air Force and Navy are also on round the clock standby to meet attacks from sea or the air. In the past, al-Maqdis has launched several rockets at Eilat. Recently Islamic State has included the Sinai Peninsula into its proposed caliphate, naming it as the 'Sinai Province'.
The ISIS warning came just two days after Israeli air raid sirens sent hundreds of thousands of Israelis scrambling for their bomb shelters. A single rocket launched by Islamic Jihad landed in an open field and did not cause any casualties or real damage. Hamas, the elected government of Gaza, quickly warned Israel that it was not responsible and was searching fore the perpetrators. Several hours later, giving Hamas time to evacuate its headquarters and other sites, Israeli aircraft swooped in to bomb the empty buildings. Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yaalon publicly warned that Israel holds Hamas directly responsible for any terrorism launched from Gaza.
Neither Israel nor Hamas seeks an escalation, and the situation has returned to normal on both sides of the border.
Hamas has arrested the three-man rocket squad responsible for the attack. Neither Israel nor Hamas seeks an escalation, and the situation has returned to normal on both sides of the border. It illustrated once again that if there are no terror attacks from Gaza, Israel will not return fire and the Palestinians in Gaza will not have to pay the consequences. In any case, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh also got his oar in by cracking that a sole rocket from Gaza had driven one-million Israelis into their bomb shelters!
Come to think of it, is there a connection between the two developments? Why would al-Maqdis tip off Israel about an impending strike on Eilat if it really intended to carry it out? Maybe ISIS hit the roof when they heard that Hamas had cracked down on Islamic Jihad for rocketing Israel and wanted to show the Jihadist world that they have other immediate plans for the Jewish state. On the other hand, part of the ISIS ideology is to spread as much fear and terror as possible in order to weaken their enemies' morale and will to fight. That is also why they make such a spectacle of filming the beheading of their captured victims.
...there is no question that Islamic State is slowly approaching the Jewish state from several directions.
In any case, Israelis were not buying. Life went on as normal in Eilat; vacationers kept on packing the beautiful beaches and tourist boats were plying up and down the coast. A school of rare dolphins even showed to the delight the sightseers. Nonetheless, although Israel and Egypt are cooperating in combating the ISIS threat in Sinai, there is no question that Islamic State is slowly approaching the Jewish state from several directions.
Syria - it's curtains sooner or later for the Assad regime
The Syrian Army, even with the fighters supplied by Hezbollah, its Shiite ally in Lebanon, as well as officers and soldiers from Iran's Quds force, have failed to stem the tide of the ISIS advance. Overall, the rebels now control some two-thirds of the former country. It's true - Syria is no longer a viable state and Iraq is following in its footsteps. Assad's Army is slowly being worn down in what has developed into a war of attrition. This, as hundreds and maybe thousands of Jihadists flock to ISIS from around the world. The historic town of Tadmor is the latest Syrian defeat with Syrian prisoners being paraded into the ancient forum to be beheaded. This as an ISIS leader warns Assad's Alawite Shiites, who are holed up in an enclave along the Mediterranean, to halt their support of Bashar Assad and accept the ISIS form of Islam, and they will receive mercy.
A similar situation is emerging in Iraq, where ISIS has captured the town of Ramadi that is only 75 miles from Baghdad. The Sunni soldiers of the Iraqi Army who take their orders from the Shiite government in Baghdad simply cut and run and when they are faced with an ISIS (also Sunni) onslaught. All that American-supplied weaponry simply falls into ISIS hands. Prof. Eyal Zisser, a leading Israel expert at Tel Aviv University sized up the emerging situation by saying the only one really surprised seems to be the Obama administration:
...the Obama administration is totally out of touch with the reality on the ground.
"Until now the U.S. was convinced that the ISIS threat had passed and the organization was in retreat and maybe collapse. However, the ISIS success is resounding evidence of America's strategic failure to cope with the organization by air strikes and isolated commando operations. Moreover, it is also clear evidence that the Obama administration is totally out of touch with the reality on the ground. The problem is that in order to see better, the Americans have put on Iranian glasses - trying to assess the situation through Iranian eyes and looking to Tehran as the solution.”
To the south of Syria and Iraq, Jordan and Israel
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is next in line for the ISIS offensive. The fact is that Israel has often served as an insurance policy for Jordan - Jerusalem has held that the entry of hostile foreign forces, such as Iraqi or Syrian, would also pose a threat to the Jewish state, which has come to Jordan’s rescue in the past. On the Golan Heights, the ISIS proximity to the Golan Heights that overlook northern Israel would be a major concern. When Hezbollah and Iran tried to expand their control of the Golan recently, Israel responded with force. This can also be the result if ISIS tries to dominate the border region adjacent to Israelis living on the Golan. This raises the question of just what territorial compromises Israel can reasonably make under the swiftly changing circumstances.
In the past, the US and the Europeans proffered the idea of 'territory for peace' to Israel. Just imagine if ISIS was now in control of the escarpment that dominates northern Israel. The same applies to the West Bank. Will Jordan, with over half of its population now Palestinian, be able to survive from both the internal and external threats to King Abdullah II?
"It's not just a question or where the new border will be but who will be on the other side of that border."
What does this imply for the West Bank, where Israel's Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon, rejected a peace plan proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry because it would turn it into another Hamastan. And into this dangerous vortex, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, will be arriving in Israel to preach to Israel on how she should compromise in order to live in peace in this part of the world.
Whether you like Prime Minister Netanyahu or not, he does have a point when he says:"It's not just a question or where the new border will be but who will be on the other side of that border."