BEIRUT – The Islamic State group has launched an unprecedented media campaign calling on Palestinians to step up attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, taking advantage of a wave of violence between the two sides to deliver rare incitement against Israel.
In a video posted Monday, the group urged Palestinians to carry out attacks using every means at their disposal, including knives, vehicles, poison and explosives.
In the past two days, IS posted six videos in which militants deliver speeches to the backdrop of scenes from recent stabbings and other attacks carried out by Palestinians against Israelis. The extremist group also published several articles written by prominent IS writers.
The videos coincide with a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence and ratcheted-up tensions among Israelis after a series of seemingly random lone-wolf attacks by Palestinians.
In the video titled "Return Terror to the Jews," a masked fighter praised Arabs who are attacking Israelis, describing them as "lone wolves who refused to be subdued and spread fear among the sons of Zion."
The Islamic State group, which has established a self-declared Islamic caliphate in the third of Iraq and Syria that it controls, operates a sophisticated media machine and often releases high-tech propaganda videos. Although IS operatives often describe Jews and Christians as infidels, the group has rarely issued videos that touch on Israel.
The IS group has no organized presence in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. But dozens of Palestinians in Gaza are believed to be inspired by the group's extremist ideology, seeing Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas rulers as too soft.
Experts believe these militants are responsible for recent rocket attacks, meant to embarrass Hamas, and attacks on posts and vehicles of some Hamas security members. In addition to these hard core militants, thousands of others are believed to support the group's ideology. Hamas has periodically cracked down on jihadi activists.
The latest violence between Israel and the Palestinians erupted about a month ago, fueled by rumors that Israel was plotting to take over Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site, a hilltop compound revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third-holiest shrine and a key national symbol for the Palestinians.
Israel has denied the allegation, saying the violence has been driven by what it calls rampant incitement against Jews on social media spread by Islamic groups and the Palestinian leadership.
"What we are seeing here is a combination of the radical Islam and the Internet," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a meeting of his Likud party Monday.
"Osama Bin Laden meets Mark Zuckerberg. The incitement in the social networks is moving the murders. We are seeing this clearly."