Indeed, if you look at the statistics, a war is already heading our way. There have been three wars in Gaza in less than seven years, and the prospect of an outside force conquering Gaza from the south is now a very real reality for Israel (and Egypt) to have to contend with. But is this scenario really in the cards? Does ISIS really plan on overrunning the Gaza Strip?
Well, let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth, shall we? In an article from the ALAKHBAR News Website (translated here from Arabic) ISIS has a video there taken from their stronghold in Syria, where one of the terrorists says: "We will uproot the state of the Jews and you and the PA/Fatah. All of the secularists are nothing, and you will be over-run by our creeping multitudes." (Don’t you just love that term? “Creeping multitudes”) At any rate, the masked Islamic State member goes on to call the Gaza Strip rulers the "tyrants of Hamas", as reported by Reuters. "The rule of Sharia [Islamic law] will be implemented in Gaza, in spite of you. We swear that what is happening in the Levant today, and in particular the Yarmouk camp, will happen in Gaza," he said.
The truth is, we only have to look at what happened in Egypt last week. That was a game changer. At the time I read about it, it suddenly occurred to me that these guys have become experts, if not masters, at hostile takeovers of small regions of territory, piece by nasty piece. Indeed, they have shown their prowess time and time again in Iraq and Syria. Equally surprising was discovering that the training, operational planning and the movement of the ISIS forces from their hiding areas towards their targets escaped the Egyptian intelligence's eyes. In broad daylight! It's very possible that the preparations also escaped the eyes of other intelligence services in the area, including those operated by countries which have good relations and security cooperation with Egypt, including Israel.
It’s now obvious that Islamic State is not simply a band of tribesman that went bad. Their operation in Egypt raised eyebrows in many Western nations. The reason is because it wasn’t just a terrorist attack by ‘normal’ standards. ISIS launched a full-scale military offensive, starting with mortar fire and suicide bombings against five Egyptian military checkpoints. Using a tactic similar to that employed in the capture of the Iraqi town of Ramadi last month, ISIS gunmen then followed this initial assault by riding in on minivans, backed by heavy mortar fire, to storm the positions held by the (stunned) Egyptian troops. Altogether some 20 Egyptian army positions were attacked. Egyptian Apache assault helicopters striking the ISIS force themselves faced ground fire from shoulder-borne anti-air missiles. The Islamists are additionally said to have even taken Egyptian prisoners as hostages and many abandoned armoured vehicles. The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas are no match for these guys.
Unlike the PA, Islamic State seems to have a clear and strategic ideological path. As mentioned above, their stated goal is to deal a devastating and deadly blow to the “infidels” of the region then turn their sites on to the Jewish State. In fact, according to IS fighters, the adherents of all Islamic sects who do not submit to their “Caliph” (literally: Muslim Successor) are either “apostates or misguided folk, who should be fought and killed, forced to repent and let themselves be guided, or be liberated from apostate rule.” On the site, another one adds: “We, the followers of this path follow Sharia, not the whims of men,” adding that historically the Prophet had fought Quraysh first before moving on to fight the Jews of Banu Qurayza.
Furthermore, in response to questions that appeared on several Internet sites as to why the Islamic State wasn’t fighting Israel (instead of killing Muslims in Iraq and Syria for instance), the organization responded on its Twitter account: “We haven’t given orders to kill the Israelis and the Jews yet. The war against the nearer enemy, those who rebel against the faith, is more important. Allah commands us in the Koran to fight the hypocrites, because they are much more dangerous than those who are fundamentally heretics.” As proof, the organization cited the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, who began by fighting those who rebelled against the faith, as well as Saladin, who fought the Shi’ites in Egypt before conquering Jerusalem. The sources, who are based in the Raqqa province of Syria, enumerate these necessary stages, saying, “The priority is to liberate Baghdad, then head to Damascus and liberate all of the Levant, before liberating Palestine.”
These Muslim extremists base their strategy on their perception that “Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan all collaborate with Israel,” and argue that any attack they initiate would be stopped by what they call the “idolatrous” regimes, in the name of security. One ISIS member says: “Since the countries adjacent to Israel do not fire a single bullet at it, this means they do not want a confrontation with Israel. Any attempt to use their territories to target Israel means automatically a confrontation with these regimes. Therefore, we must first purge these countries to get to Israel.”
Having said that, where does that leave us? Now that we know that they are taking on Israel’s neighbors one by one, it is just a matter of time before either Syria’s Assad falls (as I wrote in my last article: Islamic State vs. the Jewish State), or Gaza falls. Either way, it will be their last battle. Will the UN Security Council come in and save the day? Your guess is as good as mine!
If the current regime in Egypt continues to be undermined, the State of Israel's national security will be seriously affected as well. The end target for ISIS is between Gaza and the Golan Heights, but it’s looking more and more like Gaza will be the softer target. Israel must very carefully let the conflict develop and unfold there, waiting patiently for the proper time to strike and annihilate the enemy. And Israel should in no way help the PA in their fighting.
And why is that? Well, three reasons come immediately to mind. Firstly, I find it strangely ironic that the same PA who betrayed Israel in the peace negotiations by going to the International Criminal Court to lay charges against it for “war crimes” will be asking Israel for military assistance in fighting off ISIS. Another reason is because any one of those warring parties (you pick) wants to eventually conquer Jerusalem and raise their flag over the Temple Mount. I think the third reason was expressed best by the Egyptian Foreign Minister (Moussa) when he recently stated:
“If people inside [Gaza] die, then let them die! Is it better that our own children die? I’d rather maintain the safety of my country.”
My point exactly.