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July 11, 2014

ISIS Weighs In On Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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Al-Battar Media tweet threatens: “Patience, Jews, our appointment is at al-Quds [Jerusalem] tomorrow, for the one who waits is close.”

As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, an Al Qaeda inspired terrorist organization seeking to create an Islamic empire) gains confidence, territory and expands its extensive online presence, the terrorist group (and its supporters) are increasingly making threats against Israel in response to the ongoing conflict.

One of ISIS’ several media wings, Al-Battar Media, tweeted a series of graphics threatening Israel. One graphic posted July 9 shows storm clouds over Jerusalem with a warning: “Patience, Jews, our appointment is at al-Quds [Jerusalem] tomorrow, for the one who waits is close.” Another image posted the same day shows the Dome of the Rock mosque superimposed in front of militants and features the same language. 

ISIS’ Dawla Media Twitter feed, which regularly posts ISIS propaganda materials, tweeted a quoteon July 8 purportedly from a Hamas spokesman saying, “All our military operations till now are just [a] message for Israel.”

Dawla Media has also tweeted a statementon July 9 indicating that ISIS must fight the surrounding Arab states before it can attack Israel “because they are the protective fence supporting the Jews.”

Other statements have been tweeted from a feed associated with the pro-ISIS extremist forum “Al-Platform Media,” which has been tweeting statements by forum users. For example, one tweet from July linked to a conversation on the forum proclaiming, “Allah’s curse upon those of you who have made filth on the holy places. Zionist dogs…I would crucify you.”

ISIS’s online supporters are also tweeting their own threats. One supporter wrote that the kidnappings and deaths of the three Israeli teenagers Naf­tali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach would be the first of many such attacks. And at least one supporter posted the anti-Semitic “Khaybar” slo­gan evok­ing the story of slay­ing thou­sands of Jews from the tribe of Khaiber in Ara­bia 1400 years ago. The slogan has been retweeted and favorited by many ISIS supporters.

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ISIS map that reads, “We fight in Levantine and our eyes are dedicated towards beit al Maqdis [Jerusalem]”

ISIS propaganda targeting Israel is not without precedent. Even before the current conflict, maps distributed online by ISIS demonstrating its territorial ambitions regularly included Israel as part of the Islamic State. A map released by ISIS in March claimed that the organization held territory 220km away from Israel and threatened rocket attacks, saying, “We fight in the Levantine and our eyes are toward Jerusalem.”

A video released by ISIS last month before the current conflict included threats against Jews and Chris­tians to rally its militants. The video includes explicit anti-Jewish statements, including “Wherever our war goes, Jewish rabbis are humiliated.”

ISIS has a long history of threatening Israel. As early as 2005, the organization’s predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq, claimed at least 2 rocket attacks against Israel. In 2008, the organization’s leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi issued an audio statement calling for attacks on Israel and proposing to use Iraq as a “launching pad” for missile attacks against Israel.

ISIS has become well known for its sophisticated use of social media, where it disseminates propaganda, threatens western nations and enables supporters to take part in that process.

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July 8, 2014

Reflections from ADL’s Jerusalem Office

By: Phyllis Gerably, Director, ADL Israel Office

I’m writing these words as sirens are heard all around the country. The rockets that Hamas just sent fell very close to my apartment in Jerusalem.

For the last few weeks, as tensions have grown, it’s very hard not to look at the pictures of the five young people who were murdered out of fanatic hate.  The common denominator, their youth, makes it all the more shocking.  The country seems to have had a wake-up call of how fragile our life is here.  Community leaders have called for restraint, but it seems that no one can embrace the dignity and compassion of Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali (of blessed memory), who said when speaking of the murdered Arab youth, Mohammed Abu Khdeir,  “There is no difference between blood and blood.”

IronDome246We’ve barely had a chance to mourn the loss of the young people and rockets are being fired at several cities in Israel.  Pictures come to mind:  the bride in Ashdod who wasn’t sure that her wedding would take place tomorrow; efforts to take the children from Sderot to the North for a respite; the call today from Carole, our colleague and friend who, on her way back from a conference, had to leave her car as the siren was heard; and scenes from “the safe center” of Tel Aviv whose residents today experienced what citizens of Sderot have been going through for years.

My grandson didn’t sleep last night. He keeps crying and asking his mother if the house will be strong enough if a bomb falls. He is only five years old.

Addressing a recent ADL mission to Israel, Udi Segal, a journalist and commentator for Israel Channel 2, shared what the Israelis really want:  “Israelis just want quiet” he said, “with us here and the Palestinians there.”  Just quiet.

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July 7, 2014

Israeli Leaders Speak Out Against the Revenge Killing of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir

Israeli leaders expressed shock and horror that Israeli Jews are apparently responsible for the kidnapping and brutal murder of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, a sixteen year old boy from the Beit Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem, whose burned body was found in the Jerusalem Forest on July 2.

Six Israelis were arrested, and are believed to have carried out the murder as an act of revenge for the killing of 3 Israeli teens, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, who were kidnapped on June 12, and murdered by Palestinians associated with Hamas.

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ADL condemned Muhammad’s murder and the ”alarming surge” of incitement within Israeli society.

Following a condolence call to the families of the 3 Israelis teens, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the shocking killing of Muhammad, and declared:

We do not differentiate between the terrorists and we will respond to all of them, wherever they come from, with a firm hand. We will not allow extremists from wherever they come to ignite the region and shed more blood.

The following day, July 7, in speaking to Muhammad’s father, Hussein Abu Khdeir,  the Prime Minister  said:

I would like to express my outrage and that of the citizen of Israel over the reprehensible murder of your son.  We acted immediately to apprehend the murderers.  We will bring them to trial and they will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.  We denounce all brutal behavior; the murder of your son is abhorrent and cannot be countenanced by any human being.

Israeli President Shimon Peres spoke emotionally to Mr. Abu Khdeir, saying:

I am ashamed on behalf of my nation and grieve with you. The only thing left for all of us to do is to ensure that no more children are murdered, and no more tears are shed by mothers.

Peres was joined by incoming president Ruby Rivlin in an op-ed in Yediot Ahronot , appealing to Jewish and Arab Israelis to fight incitement and hate:

…there is no difference between blood and blood. The democratic State of Israel sanctifies the moral right to life and the equal right each person has to be different. The murder of a boy or a girl, Jewish or Arab, is an unacceptable act…It is our duty to stop the journey of incitement. We must understand that we have no other way but to live together. The bloodshed will only stop when we all realize that we have not been sentenced to live together, but destined to live together. Any hesitation or compromise on this issue will lead to deterioration which could be disastrous not just to our life together, but to our actual life.

Joining the official pronouncements were those of a more personal nature.  In The Times of Israel, Sherri Mandell, the mother of thirteen year old, Koby Mandell who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2001, harshly condemned the killers of Muhammad, writing in a blog entitled  “How Dare You”:

When I heard that the three yeshiva boys, Naftali, Eyal, and Gil-ad, were murdered I admit I felt both rage and anger. Those are legitimate feelings when young boys in your community are kidnapped and murdered. But the Jewish way is always to choose life, not death. To seek justice, not vengeance. Justice is not burning another innocent human being alive. Justice is allowing the government to find the murderers and punish them. I am concerned about how the world views us in Israel. But I am more concerned about what we say and think about ourselves. What can we believe about our own society now that you have weakened our integrity? We are guilty of committing an abominable depraved act.

Perhaps the most poignant condemnations came from the families of the three Israeli teens.  Naftali Fraenkel’s uncle, Yishai, reached out to the Abu Khdeir family and said:  “there is no difference between those who murdered Muhammad, and those who murdered our children. Those are murderers, and these are murderers. And both must be dealt with to the full extent of the law, and we told him that.”

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