The Islamic State and Hamas have both claimed responsibility for a terror attack carried out by three young men in Jerusalem earlier today. Hadas Malka, a 23-year-old Israeli Border Police officer (seen above), was stabbed to death and others were wounded.
It is the first time that the so-called caliphate has claimed an operation inside Israel. But the Islamic State’s statements were quickly disputed online by Hamas.
Citing a “security source,” Amaq News Agency first reported that “those who executed the stabbing operations in Jerusalem are Islamic State soldiers.” Amaq is one of the Islamic State’s main propaganda outfits.
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization followed up with a second claim, identifying the trio of terrorists who carried out the assault as Abul-Bara al-Maqdisi, Abul-Hassan al-Maqdisi and Abu Riyah al-Maqdisi. These “lions” of the caliphate “stormed into gatherings of the filthy Jews.” The group then threatened: “By the permission of Allah, this attack will not be the last one, and let the Jews await the demolishing of their entity by the hands of the Khilafah soldiers.”
However, Izzat Risheq, a senior Hamas official, claimed on Twitter that Baghdadi’s men are lying. The “three martyrs” have “nothing to do” with the Islamic State, Risheq stated. Instead, he said, they were dispatched by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas.
Hamas released a statement (seen on the right) on its Arabic-language website that is attributed to its spokesman, Sami Abou Zouhri, who reiterated Risheq’s claim. Two of the terrorists were from PFLP and the third from Hamas, according to the statement. Hamas accuses the Islamic State of attempting to confuse the media.
Earlier, Hamas praised the attacks on Twitter but stopped short of claiming responsibility. The group said that it mourned “the martyrs” who carried out the attack “Friday evening near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.” The attack “is renewed proof that the Palestinian people continue their revolution in the face of the occupier.” Hamas added that the “occupation is the true face of terrorism and extremism against the people,” who “exercise the right to resistance.”
Independent reporting confirms that three young terrorists conducted the attacks. According to The Times of Israel, Shin Bet has identified them “as Adel Ankush, 18, from the West Bank village of Deir Abu-Mash’al near Ramallah, Bra’a Salah, 19, from the same village, and Asama Ahmed, 19, from the nearby village of Tsatfa Ata.” The report adds: “All three had previously been arrested for terror-related activities.”
If this identification is confirmed, then the attackers are not transplants, but instead residents of the West Bank. The Islamic State has worked to build support in the West Bank and Gaza, winning the loyalty of some local jihadists. But Hamas has much deeper roots in the area.
The Times of Israel explained that two of the three, armed with a knife and a “homemade” gun, first attacked a group of officers. Malka was part of the force called in to offer their fellow Israelis support. The third terrorist then repeatedly stabbed her. She later succumbed to her wounds.
Although the Islamic State’s Wilayah Sinai has launched missiles into Israel (and its predecessor, Ansar Jerusalem, conducted some cross-border raids), the Islamic State itself had never claimed responsibility for an attack carried out inside Israel. Of course, Hamas and other groups have compiled a thick dossier in this regard.
Earlier this month, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men executed their first raid in Tehran, Iran. In that case, there is little to no doubt concerning their culpability. Hamas, which has received significant assistance from Iran, denounced the operation in Tehran.
Social media accounts affiliated with both the Islamic State and Hamas have disseminated images of the three young men responsible for the attacks in Jerusalem. The photos below come from Hamas accounts or other Palestinian media.
Photos of the terrorists responsible for the Jerusalem attacks: