Israel Changes Policy Towards ISIS, Hires 15,000 Personnel to Confront Threats

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Reuters
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Israel Changes Policy Towards ISIS, Hires 15,000 Personnel to Confront Threats

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued instructions to change the policy on dealing with ISIS terrorists to impose severe penalties on their activities and monitor their behavior and their accounts on social networks.

Bennett stepping up anti-ISIS measures follows two people being killed in a shooting attack in Hadera, the second attack linked to the militant group in Israel within a week.

Moreover, Tel Aviv issued a series of security decisions that included recruiting 15,000 individuals to its police and border guards’ apparatuses. The increase in personnel is meant to deter additional threats of terror attacks during Islam’s holy month of fasting, Ramadan.

“A second attack by ISIS supporters inside Israel requires the security forces to adapt quickly to the new threat,” said Bennett, adding that extremist elements of the Arab community in Israel are being directed by an extremist Islamic ideology to carry out terrorist operations that take human lives.

One of the two attackers who carried out the shooting Sunday had served a year and a half in an Israeli prison following a conviction for attempting to enter Syria to become an ISIS fighter.

Ibrahim Agbarieh, 29, from the Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm was arrested by Turkish police ahead of boarding a bus headed for the Syrian border. Apparently, information provided to Turkey by Israeli authorities led to the arrest.

The second assailant, Ayman Agbarieh, also from Umm al-Fahm, identified with ISIS. He was arrested by the Shin Bet security service in 2017 on suspicion of weapons violations but was released three weeks later without charges.

Two people were killed in the shooting, both of them 19-year-old members of the Border Police.

“My heart breaks for the death of Border Police members Shirel Abukarat and Yazan Falah, who died shielding civilians with their bodies from vile murderers,” a statement from Bennett said.

“I wish a speedy recovery to the wounded and send my deep condolences to the family.”

Five other people – a Border Police member and four civilians – are hospitalized at Hadera's Hillel Yaffeh Medical Center. The hospital said Monday that the Border Police officer is in very serious condition. Another person is in moderate condition, and the rest were slightly injured.



Israeli Polls Show Netanyahu Party Narrowing Gap Behind Gantz 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz attends a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz attends a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (AP)
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Israeli Polls Show Netanyahu Party Narrowing Gap Behind Gantz 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz attends a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz attends a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right wing Likud party has reduced the gap behind the centrist party of former minister Benny Gantz, who quit the wartime unity government on Sunday, two polls showed on Friday.

The polls, for the left wing Ma'ariv daily and the right-wing Israel Hayom newspaper, showed Likud winning 21 seats behind the National Unity Party on 24. The Ma'ariv poll last week showed Gantz's party on 27 seats, while at the start of the year, it was regularly polling in the high 30s.

The Ma'ariv poll shows the current ruling coalition winning 52 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, against 58 for the main opposition parties, with the balance of 10 seats held by the United Arab List and the left-wing Hadash-Ta'al alliance.

The Israel Hayom poll put the coalition on 50 seats against 61 for the opposition parties and 9 for the UAL and Hadash-Ta'al.

Both polls showed a majority of voters would prefer Gantz as prime minister in a head-to-head choice with Netanyahu. However, the Israel Hayom poll showed that if former prime minister Naftali Bennett were to join forces with Avigdor Liberman and Gideon Saar, two other center right politicians from outside the Likud camp, their alliance could beat both Likud and Gantz's National Unity Party.

Gantz, a former army general and defense minister in the last government, joined Netanyahu's coalition last year as a gesture of national unity following the devastating attack by Hamas on Oct 7.

However, he clashed repeatedly with other ministers and quit the government after demanding Netanyahu articulate a clear strategic plan for the war in Gaza, now in its ninth month.

Netanyahu, who was widely blamed for the security failures that allowed the Oct. 7 attack to take place, has refused to call early elections and would not normally face voters until 2026 if his coalition with a clutch of religious and right-wing pro-settler parties holds.