FRESH AIR

Lone Wolves? Islamic State sympathisers kill six Israelis in two attacks

Mar 28, 2022 | Ahron Shapiro

Slain Israelis Shirel Aboukaret and Yazan Fallah
Slain Israelis Shirel Aboukaret and Yazan Fallah

Israeli supporters of the Islamic State ideology have been responsible for two terror attacks in Israel this week, raising fears that Israeli security services may have been caught off-guard by what may be only the beginning of a wave of IS-inspired terrorism.

In the latest attack on Sunday night, March 27, two heavily armed terrorists from the Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm opened fire with automatic weapons at a bus and bus stop in the Israeli coastal city of Hadera. Two members of the Israeli Border Police who were passing through the area – Yazan Fallah, 19, from Kasra Samia, and Shirel Aboukaret, 19, from Netanya – were killed. Twelve people were injured. The terrorists, who were confirmed to be supporters of Islamic State, were quickly confronted and shot by members of an off-duty Border Police counterterrorism unit who had, by sheer luck, been eating at a restaurant nearby. Police said the terrorists had planned a much larger attack, and found a case of 1,100 rounds of extra ammunition on the scene.

The two terrorists in Hadera were cousins. One had been arrested in the past by Turkey for trying to join the Islamic State and had also served time in an Israeli prison on terror offences.

“It’s a very serious attack. We are talking about terrorists belonging to the Islamic State,” Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev told Army Radio according to the Times of Israel. “We are witnessing an alarming awakening, that could happen in any country. Police will deploy in all areas,” he said.

Sunday’s terror attack followed a previous incident of IS-inspired terror on March 22. In that attack, an Israeli Bedouin from the Negev town of Hura stabbed four Israelis to death at an outdoor shopping mall in the southern city of Beersheva. The terrorist, who was killed at the scene by an armed passerby while attacking a fifth person, had been released from prison in 2019 after serving a four-year sentence for plotting to join the Islamic State terror group in Syria.

The fatalities were later named as Doris Yahbas, 49, a mother of three; Laura Yitzhak, 43,  also a mother of three; Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky, a father of four; and Menahem Yehezkel, 67. Rabbi Kravitzky was the longtime head of a local soup kitchen providing services to the needy in the community.

Islamic State took responsibility for both attacks. There is little history of Islamic State successfully carrying out attacks within Israel. Moreover, all three attackers were Israel citizens, and terrorist attacks from Israeli Arab citizens have also been relatively rare. Concerns are being expressed by analysts in Israel that these attacks may be the start of a larger wave of attacks from Islamic State inspired-terrorists, especially from Israeli Arab communities.

The March 22 attack is the deadliest single terror attack in Israel since 2016, when two terrorists opened fire in Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, killing four and wounding 16 people.

According to Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinian Authority has commented very differently in English compared to Arabic on the March 22 attack. Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh had reportedly expressed “shock” to Bar Lev over the March 22 attack, but referred to the terrorist as a “martyr” in Arabic. Hamas openly praised the same terror attack.

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