An Islamic State attack in Israel is a matter of time, an Israeli official warned this week, pointing to the increasing global reach of the jihadist group.
The senior defense official said that Russian and coalition airstrikes on IS targets have prompted the group to shift strategy and begin carrying out attacks outside its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.
The recent IS-backed terror attacks in the US and France are an indication of the group’s changed approach, the unnamed official said.
Unlike Hamas or Hezbollah — other terror groups that have targeted Israel over the years — IS and its affiliates lack a central organizational structure, making an Israeli response to an attack significantly more difficult, he said.
“Who would we even attack in Syria that the international coalition and the Russians aren’t attacking already?” the official said.
The IDF held a surprise drill last week to practice readiness for “extreme” scenarios, including border clashes with IS-affiliated jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula along the border with Egypt.
The official’s comments come days after 14 people were killed by two IS-linked gunmen in San Berdardino, California. Weeks earlier, an IS terror assault in Paris killed 130 and wounded over 300, leading Western powers to step up their airstrikes against the group in Syria and Iraq.
Last month, IS militants released an online video in Hebrew promising that “not a single Jew would remain in Jerusalem.”
While nowhere near the numbers of European Muslims traveling to Syria to join IS, an increasing number of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who identify with the Islamist movement have joined its ranks.
The Shin Bet security service believes that more than 40 Palestinian and Israeli Arab volunteer recruits have joined IS in the past several years.