Islamic State not yet a threat to Israel, IDF says

Senior military intelligence officer says IS differs from Hamas and Hezbollah, adds Israel will provide intel on it if asked

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Supporters of the Islamic State wave guns and flags at a rally in Raqqa, Syria (photo credit: YouTube screen cap/Vice)
Supporters of the Islamic State wave guns and flags at a rally in Raqqa, Syria (photo credit: YouTube screen cap/Vice)

A senior military intelligence officer said Wednesday that Israel would likely assist the global effort against the Islamic State group if asked, but maintained that the jihadists did not pose an immediate threat to the Jewish State.

The officer added that unlike terror organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, it was impossible to negotiate with the Islamic State.

“If Israel has intelligence on IS targets in Syria, and we are asked to hand it over to the global coalition against the organization, I believe we will do it,” the officer told Hebrew media.

On September 8, Reuters reported that Israel had handed over satellite images pertaining to the Islamic State to Washington. The information was subsequently given to Turkey and other Arab countries, but only once all markings tracing it back to Israel were scrubbed.

Dismissing fears that the Islamic State was lurking on Israel’s borders, the officer said the group was not currently a threat to Israel. He conceded that it had formed sleeper cells in Lebanon, but emphasized that they were located far from the border.

In a departure from statements issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that insisted that the Islamic State and Hamas are “branches of the same poisonous tree,” the officer pointed to inherent difference between the groups.

“The difference between IS and Hamas, for example, is that the Islamic State brought back the religious wars that we thought would not longer happen in the Middle East and therefore there is no possibility of reaching an agreement with them, unlike organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.

“They want an uncontested religious rule, and they are opposed to anything modern or liberal.”

The IDF intelligence assessment maintained that the terror group had some 30,000 fighters, controlled 60 oil fields in Syria for which it earned between three to six million dollars a day, ran four power plants in Syria, and controlled 45 percent of its gas reserves.

The officer said Syrian President Basher Assad bought oil from the jihadists.

The Islamists have founded an interior ministry, treasury, welfare and social services, schools, bakeries and police, he said. The group also receives donations from Sunni sheikhs, and has looted and stolen countless times.

The officer said the Islamic State was not going to disappear in the near future, though it may try to keep a low profile, and warned that its reach could extend into Asia.

“They will probably try to burrow and disappear ahead of a possible attack on them,” he said.

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