HAIFA, Israel – The chilling black flag of the Islamic State is popping up on social media in Israel, including one image of the terror banner snapped against the backdrop of the nation's holiest site -- prompting fears the ultra-violent jihadist group could have sympathizers inside the Jewish state.
A photo that recently appeared on Twitter showed the flag held aloft on the Temple Mount, the most sensitive religious site in the Old City of Jerusalem, that includes the Golden 'Dome of the Rock' mausoleum and the ‘Al Aqsa’ Mosque, sacred to Muslims, adjacent to the Western Wall, the holiest place for Jews. Other online postings have shown the flag being flown in Nazareth, where the fast-growing Muslim community lives side-by-side with Christian Arabs in a sometimes tense environment, and also in Acre, the ancient port city close to Israel’s border with Lebanon in the north. The images have stirred fears the terror group previously known as ISIS has sympathizers in Israel
“If you look at ISIS as a code, a brand name, or a symbol to identify with, then you can find people in the area [who identify with it] not just in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, but around the region, because it symbolizes some kind of victorious pro-active Islam -- a compensation sometimes for a sense of disappointment, failure, or marginalization,” Yoram Schweizer, head of the Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, told FoxNews.com.
“If you look at ISIS as a code, a brand name, or a symbol to identify with, then you can find people in the area [who identify with it] not just in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, but around the region.”
- Yoram Schweizer, Israeli terror expert
The black flag predates Islamic State, but the terrorist army has co-opted it as a battle banner. The words inscribed on it, known in Islam as the Shahada, translate to "There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."
In another disturbing development that raised the specter of the Islamic State in Israel, a YouTube clip aired on an evening news program showing a young girl believed to be from the Israeli Arab village of Taibe. In the video, the girl is encouraged by an adult off-camera to decapitate a doll with a long knife to the cries of ‘Allah Hu’Akbar,’ The video ends with a photo of the moment immediately prior to the recent execution by ISIS of U.S. journalist James Foley, leaving the viewer in no doubt where the inspiration for the macabre indoctrination of the vulnerable child comes from.
In a written response to questions from FoxNews.com, Israel’s Justice Ministry confirmed that ISIS has been declared a terror organization, and that the ministry is “concluding the examination towards declaring ISIS an unlawful association”, a move that could render any support for the Islamic State illegal in the State of Israel.
Islamic State has vowed to expand its so-called caliphate into Israel and "liberate" Jerusalem.
“This is not the first border we will break, Inshallah [God willing]" an English-speaking Chilean recruit to ISIS, (who goes by the name of Abu Saffiya), states in a video allegedly filmed at an abandoned army post on the Iraq-Syria border earlier this summer and originally highlighted by the Jerusalem Post. "Abu Bakhr al-Baghdadi [leader of ISIS] says, ‘God will break all barriers... Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon...all of them until we reach Al Quds [Jerusalem].’”
Support for the bloodthirsty group is far more overt in the Palestinian-controlled territories of Gaza and the West Bank, where it may even be seen as an eventual threat to current Palestinian leadership. In June, Islamic State supporters held a rally in southern Gaza to celebrate the early successes of Islamic State in capturing key Iraqi cities such as Mosul and Tikrit,” according to the Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
“During the support rally, held on June 12, 2014, ISIS and Al Qaeda flags were waved, and slogans were heard in favor of establishing an Islamic caliphate (the Islamic State), and against the Jews," stated a report by the center. "The support rally was dispersed by the Hamas police.”
For now, experts who spoke to FoxNews.com do not believe Islamic State poses a clear and present threat to Israel, but they acknowledge the group's appeal and rapid growth in the region is worrisome.
“Up to now we haven’t seen ISIS infrastructure in Israel, in Gaza, or in the West Bank” Schweizer said. “You may find it in future, but right now they’re too busy [in Iraq and Syria] to invest in Israel itself, or in the West Bank.”