Israeli security forces are continuing their efforts to break up Islamic State terror cells in the Israeli-Arab community that committed two deadly terror attacks over the past week.
Four people were killed in a car-ramming and stabbing spree in Beersheba last Tuesday, committed by an Israeli Arab who was previously imprisoned for supporting the Islamic State. On Sunday, a pair of Border Police officers were gunned down in Hadera by two Israeli Arabs in a coordinated attack that the Islamic State subsequently claimed.
Twelve people from the northern Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm have been arrested for involvement in the Hadera attack, Israeli news site N12 reported Tuesday, as investigations remain ongoing.
The two attacks have deeply disturbed the security establishment for several reasons, according to the outlet. In particular, the attacks were different from recent “lone wolf” attacks committed for nationalist reasons. Instead, they were religious in motivation — and there is concern that such religious extremism could become “contagious” and inspire others to commit similar attacks.
The investigation has found that the Umm al-Fahm cell was active online, sharing opinions via computer and cell phones, along with small meetings during prayer times at local mosques.
The investigation is currently far from over, with authorities seeking some 100 suspects in several Arab towns who may have connections to the Islamic State. The security establishment is also concerned that operations may be hampered by legal guardrails, as the suspects are citizens of Israel, meaning that measures that can be taken against them are different from those against suspects in the West Bank, which is under military law.