God caused the Jews of the world to gather in Israel, and the war against them has become easy. It is the obligation of every Muslim to carry out Jihad. Jews, you will not enjoy in Palestine. God has gathered you in Palestine so that the Mujahedeen can reach you soon and you will hide by the rock and the tree. Palestine will be your graveyard. We are getting closer to you day by day. Do not think that we have forgotten about you.1
– ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi audio message, December 26, 2015
The threats against Israel by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi constitute a change in this terror organization’s line. So far it has avoided such proclamations, and its official organs make almost no mention of the Palestine problem. On the contrary, when Hamas called on ISIS for help during Operation Protective Edge, the group officially rebuffed Hamas’s cry of distress and said the war against Assad was more important.
As for the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, they have not been referring to ISIS at all. The PLO wants to establish a Palestinian state, and that goal totally contravenes ISIS’s ambition to destroy the existing states and create a sharia-based caliphate in their stead.
Furthermore, at the height of the “Al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger” campaign, ISIS circulated leaflets in Jerusalem that completely ignored the “danger” to Al-Aqsa, instead concentrating on anti-Christian incitement. In later announcements it attacked the Christians, and Christians now celebrating in Bethlehem this season are being subjected to pressures not only by ISIS but also, for reasons that are not clear, by different PLO groups.
Palestinian Authority Plays with Fire
One thing Israel must take into account is that PA officials have been challenging ISIS to turn its gaze toward Israel. They are playing with fire, because if, God forbid, ISIS does decide to act against Israel, it will undoubtedly act against the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah as well.
At this point it is not clear what has induced a change in ISIS’s stance. One can only watch developments as they unfold, and demand of the Palestinians that they act responsibly in their statements about ISIS.
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