Former military intelligence head Amos Yadlin on Wednesday downplayed the possibility of an infiltration into Israel by Islamic State terrorists, saying there was no need for the Jewish state to fear the extremist al-Qaida offshoot.

Yadlin appeared to try to quell heightened concern following the gruesome murder of the journalist Steven Sotloff, who held dual American-Israeli citizenship.

"There is no real reason to be afraid. ISIS is an expert at PR and intimidation. They murder their prisoners in a shocking way and thereby gain media attention," Yadlin said at an event held by the Ashkelon Academic College.

While the insurgent terrorists have captured territory in nearby Syria and Iraq as part of their stated objective to reinstate an Islamic caliphate, Yadlin stated that "they only succeed in areas that no one wants to go to - the neglected Sunni areas of northeastern Syria and the deprived areas of Iraq."

According to the former military intelligence chief, Islamic State insurgents will face superior armed forces if they reach Shi'ite-majority cities that are motivated to protect main population centers like Baghdad and Karbala.

Yadlin claimed that the Islamic State would be easier for the IDF to eliminate than Hamas terrorists who he said were hiding in hospitals in Gaza.

He added that the IDF "should not have a problem" dealing with the extremist organization.

On Wednesday, Israel officially banned the Islamic State and anyone associating with it.

The decree signed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon outlawed meetings of any kind between Islamic State members and declared the group an illegal organization.

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