Analysis: As Israel’s Jihadi Neighbor Gets Bolder, Threat Remains Low

Fighters from Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front drive in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo flying Islamist flags as they head to a frontline, on May 26, 2015.
Fadi al-Halabi/AFP/Getty

The Times of Israel reports: Despite a pairing up of two Islamic State-linked militant groups on Israel’s northern border and a show of boldness by the new alliance, their threat to the Jewish state remains minimal, experts on jihadi groups in Syria told the Times of Israel.

As the Syrian civil war rages into its fifth year, with some estimates putting the death toll at nearly half a million people, small to medium-sized militant groups continue to jockey for power, switch allegiances and swap control of territory. This volatile situation extends all the way to Israel’s doorstep.

The two most powerful Sunni groups that now control territory on Israel’s northern border are the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, which is estimated to have several thousand fighters, and the IS-linked Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade (YMB), which according to most estimates, has up to 1,000 members.

An IDF officer told the Times of Israel in March that the Israeli army was keeping a close eye on both groups, afraid they might carry out an attack — a car bomb, rocket launching, or kidnapping — in order to score propaganda points with their benefactors; both Islamic State and al-Qaeda have threatened Israel in the past.

The overall assessment, however, remains that these jihadi groups are too pre-occupied fighting each other and reinforcing their grip on their respective territory to open a battlefront with the Middle East’s most powerful military.

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