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How dangerous is ISIS to Israel?


The Islamic State group has killed thousands of people since it declared an Islamic caliphate in ‎June 2014, with the city of Raqqa as its de facto capital. It captured tremendous international attention ‎by swiftly conquering large swaths of land and by releasing gruesome pictures of beheadings and ‎other means of executions. In Israel, concern is increasing as ISIS nears Israeli borders.‎

Yet, several analyses of the threat ISIS poses to Israel seem to be unnecessary alarmist. ISIS is primarily ‎successful where there is a political void. Although the offensives in Syria and Iraq showed the Islamic ‎State’s tactical capabilities, they were directed against failed states with weakened militaries. When ‎and where ISIS has met well organized opposition by non-state entities, such as that posed by Kurdish ‎militias, the group’s performance has been less convincing.‎

The attack on an Egyptian town in the Sinai Peninsula conducted by the local ISIS branch with several ‎hundred fighters — an item well covered in the Israeli media — is not an exception to this assessment. ‎ISIS has shown tactical ability in employing large numbers of militiamen in an area where, for several ‎years, the Egyptian army has encountered problems in enforcing state sovereignty.‎

Nevertheless, the Egyptian army eventually succeeded in repelling the attack and in killing hundreds of ‎attackers. A determined Egyptian regime put up a good fight against the terrorists in Sinai. Despite the ‎fact that the Egyptian army is not well-trained in scenarios posed by groups like ISIS, and despite the ‎army’s preoccupation with the delta region ( the threat in Sinai is considered peripheral), the Egyptian ‎army is still likely to be successful in containing the ISIS challenge.‎

The difference between a real army and the forces in Syria and Iraq that ISIS has encountered should ‎be recognized. Generally, non-state actors are less dangerous than states. Only states can develop ‎nuclear weapons. Non-state actors usually do not possess airplanes, heavy artillery and tanks that can ‎cause great damage. Since they are Iranian proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas are not an exception to this ‎rule because they have been endowed with destructive capabilities, such as missiles, by a state. ‎Moreover, they have secured almost exclusive control over a piece of territory.‎


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