PA Officials Say Palestinian Are ‘Moderates’, Don’t Like ISIS

September 11, 2014  

Officials in Ramallah and Gaza claim that there is little or no support there for ISIS, the Islamist terror group that has conquered large parts of Iraq and Syria. A report in the Palestinian Authority-controlled daily Al-Quds al-Arabi quoted top officials as saying that despite trying, the group had been unable to make inroads among Palestinian Arabs.

The officials were quoted in the report as saying that Palestinian Arabs “believe in moderate Islam,” not in Islamist practices – such as imposing belief in Islam on “infidels” on pain of death – that ISIS practices.

What’s the reality?

The reality, however, is somewhat different. In Gaza in particular – where 89% voiced support for the decidedly un-moderate Islamist Hamas terrorist group in a recent poll – support for the “Islamic State” or ISIS is actually quite significant, with so many Gazans traveling to fight for the group that it reportedly created a special unit for them.

There are also many Islamic State supporters inside Gaza, although Hamas authorities have repeatedly played down their presence there and even banned foreign media outlets from filming ISIS gatherings – such as a funeral earlier this year for two members of an ISIS cell killed by an Israeli air strike.

More recently, Arabic media outlets reported on how jihadi networks sympathetic to ISIS enabled one former Islamic State fighter to travel from Syria to Gaza, where he was killed fighting Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

Support also exists outside of Gaza, although possibly to a lesser extent.

A jihadi group based in eastern Jerusalem swore loyalty to ISIS in February, and recently hit headlines after encouraging extremists to murder Twitter employees and attack the company’s US headquarters.

Support even exists among Arab citizens of Israel. A report on Channel Two Sunday night showed numerous Israeli Arabs who expressed support for the Islamic State, saying that it was a proper Islamic organization that accurately project the values of Islam. The report featured what Channel Two called “a well-know figure in the Israeli Arab community in the Galilee”, who said that the progress of the group was inevitable, and that true Muslims were looking forward to the expansion of the IS “caliphate” to Israel, which “belongs to the Islamic nation.”

Jews, he said, would be given the opportunity to adopt Islam, but he did not specify what the alternative would be. Under Islamic law, Jews who refuse to adopt Islam are given a choice between “dhimmi” status, essentially making them second-class citizens who are required to submit up to three quarters of their income in taxes to Muslim authorities, and are required to defer to Muslims in all things – or death. Police said that they knew of at least 20 Israeli Arabs who were fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS supporters ‘will be prosecuted’

Last week, Israel Police Commander Yochanan Danino said that the state would prosecute any individual who expresses public sympathy or admiration for ISIS.

In a letter earlier this week to Justice Ministry staff, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said Israeli citizens who wave the flags or display other symbols associated with ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, or other terror organizations, will be subject to arrest and prosecution.

The letter says that, according to Weinstein’s opinion, the state is on clear legal grounds to persecute such actions. “The Palestine Liberation Organization was declared a terror organization many years ago, and that designation has never been changed. Technically, flying the PLO flag is a crime, as that was legislated when the PLO was declared a terror group.

“Given the new relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which represents the PLO, the Attorney General has for many years overlooked the criminal aspects of flying the PLO flag, and no one is persecuted for this anymore,” the letter said. “With that, there is no overall protection for flying the flag of terror groups, which is still a crime.” That law, the letter said, needed to be enforced against groups that practice terrorism, including ISIS, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

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