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In recent days, the pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Al-Murhafat Foundation has published two articles discussing the organization's stance regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The articles lash out at ISIS enemies, including Palestinian armed groups such as Hamas, for not being sufficiently committed to the Salafi-jihadi principle of al-wala' wal-bara' (loyalty to and solidarity with fellow Muslims and hatred and disavowal of non-Muslims); assert that ISIS, with its belief in global jihad, is more committed to helping the Palestinians than its rivals are; and defends the organization against accusations that it has never attacked Israel and does not care about the Palestinian cause.
In recent weeks, many pro-ISIS media groups have released posters urging Palestinians and Muslims worldwide to wage jihad against Israel and Jews.
Since its establishment, ISIS has tended to focus less on the Palestinian issue than do other jihadi groups, such as Al-Qaeda. The first leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, rarely mentioned Palestine in his speeches, nor did the organization's first two spokesmen, Abu Muhammad Al-'Adnani and Abu Al-Hasan Al-Muhajir, devote much attention to Palestine, apparently believing that ISIS is at war with all "unbelievers" and "apostates," making Israel no greater enemy than the Arab governments of the Middle East.
The current ISIS spokesman, Abu Hamzah Al-Qurashi, signaled a change in focus in a January 2020 audio message stating that ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashemi Al-Qurashi had declared war on Israel, and calling on ISIS fighters, particularly in Sinai and Syria, to attack Israel. The ISIS branch in Sinai has claimed responsibility for the detonations of several gas pipelines connecting Egypt and Israel, and has killed several people whom it accused of being agents for Israeli intelligence.[3
The Sinai-based Salafi-jihadi group Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, which later pledged allegiance to ISIS and evolved into the organization's Sinai Province, fired rockets at Israel in 2012. However, since it joined ISIS, the fighters in ISIS' Sinai Province, like those in other ISIS provinces, has not attacked Israeli territory.
The two articles reiterate the ISIS position that in principle, Israel is not a higher priority for attack than any other "unbelievers" or "apostates," such as the governments of Arab countries where ISIS already has a presence. The articles assert that while ISIS would like to attack Israel, its current focus on carrying out attacks in Arab countries is justified, since – Al-Murhafat claims – these countries defend Israel and prevent Muslims from launching attacks against it. Thus, they explain, waging war on Arab countries is actually a necessary first stage before ISIS can attack the Jewish state.
In videos they have produced, other pro-ISIS media groups, such as the Hadm Al-Aswar and Virtual Battlefield Foundations, have provided similar justifications for the current ISIS focus on fighting Arab regimes.
While the Al-Murhafat articles, like many recent posters released by other pro-ISIS media groups, affirm ISIS support for the Palestinian struggle against Israel, they devote much of their attention to attacking the organizations' rivals, particularly Palestinian groups such as Hamas. This indicates that discrediting other Islamist groups and gaining support among Palestinians is a more important goal for many ISIS supporters than attacking Israel.
On May 14, 2021, the Al-Murhafat Foundation released a poster featuring an article titled "The Weeping of the Hypocrites: When Al-Wala' Wal-Bara' Becomes Confused." The poster features images of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, the ruins of ISIS-controlled cities in Iraq and Syria, and families of ISIS members in camps run by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in eastern Syria.
The article printed on the poster notes that houses and mosques were bombed by the "Crusader-Arab Coalition" in "Mosul, Falluja, Ramadi, Raqqa, Al-Khayr and Al-Barakah [Deir Al-Zour and Al-Hasakah], Aleppo, Baghouz, Sirte, and other provinces of the Islamic State," killing women, children, and the elderly, while "those who falsely and hypocritically pretend to weep today over the Jews' bombing of Gaza" showed no concern.
Al-Murhafat alleges that those who celebrated the bombing of ISIS-controlled towns, claiming that the victims were Khawarij, and are not concerned about the plight of the women and children who survived those bombings and are now interned in the SDF-run Al-Hol camp, demonstrate a lack of al-wala' wal-bara', for "wala' [loyalty] to believers obliges a Muslim to defend them wherever they are and bara'ah [disavowal] of the unbelievers obliges him to hate them and wage war on them wherever they are and whoever they are – Jews, Crusaders, or apostates."
The media outlet claims that these people are afraid to express solidarity with ISIS women and children so as not to "anger America and its sisters in the taghout [literally false deity, a reference to governments that rule by manmade law] international community" and express sympathy only for the causes that "please the Crusaders and do not harm their worldly interests."
Al-Murhafat warns Palestinians not to trust the "two-faced hypocrites who traffic in your blood," claiming that "they will abandon you if the unbelieving international community asks them to do so." The article asserts that the only group which really cares about the Palestinians is ISIS, which "does not differentiate between Muslims in any place, [… and] is pained by the wounds of the Muslims in Gaza, just as it is pained by [the wounds of Muslims] in Baghouz, Burma, and other places."
Asserting that ISIS "fights the taghouts in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and other places" because those Arab governments "stand in the front row to defend the Jews and prevent anyone who wants to wage jihad on them [from doing so]," the article tells Palestinians that "if the borders between you and the soldiers of the Caliphate in Sinai were opened, and the factions which ally with the Rafidites [a pejorative term for Shi'ites, i.e. Iran], like Hamas, would not stand in their way, you would see what would happen to the Jews and their lackeys."
Al-Murhafat claims that groups such as Hamas want the Palestinians' suffering to continue so they can "traffic in the blood of the people of Palestine" and gain political power by professing support for their cause. The article adds that despite the obstacles, "the soldiers of the Caliphate in Sinai spare no effort in striking the Jews as much as they can. We ask Allah to grant them power over the Jews and their lackeys in Palestine."
On May 16, Al-Murhafat released a second poster, featuring an article titled "The Islamic State, The Palestinian Cause, And the Critics." The poster depicts an armed fighter holding an ISIS banner looking down on the Dome of the Rock. The article lashes out at the "critics" who accuse ISIS of refraining from attacking Israel and defending the Muslims in Palestine, even going so far as to claim that ISIS was created by Israel.
Al-Murhafat accuses these critics of "asking the Islamic State to act and refrain from acting at the same time," claiming that if ISIS were to attack Israel, its enemies would blame the organization for "giving the Jews an excuse to increase their criminality because of the presence of terrorism," just as they blamed ISIS for its activity against the Syrian and Libyan regimes.
The article claims that ISIS rivals are afraid that ISIS will enter into direct conflict with Israel, because then it would become clear that the Iran-led "Axis of Resistance" against Israel is not truly committed to fighting Israel. Al-Murhafat claims that this is why Hamas and its fellow "apostate factions in Palestine" persecute and arrest those who want to join ISIS and even cooperate with the "apostate Egyptian regime" against ISIS in Sinai.
Paraphrasing a famous quote by Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi, the slain head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the article states that "the soldiers of the Caliphate in all provinces wage war on the apostates and Crusaders while their eyes are on Jerusalem," claiming that the Sinai Province in particular "waits for the opportunity to pound the fortresses of the Jews and has done so several times." Noting that ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashemi announced that "this stage is the stage of waging war on the Jews," Al-Murhafat urges ISIS fighters everywhere to make preparations to fight against Israel.
 See MEMRI JTTM Reports: Pro-ISIS Media Outlets Urge Palestinians To Reject Nationalism And Wage Uncompromising Jihad Against "Jews", May 10, 2021; Pro-ISIS Media Groups Urge Palestinians To Wage Jihad With Knives, Vehicles, Slam 'Apostate' Factions Using 'Empty And Hollow Slogans', May 11, 2021.
 See MEMRI JTTM Report: ISIS Spokesman Dismisses Trump's Declarations Of Annihilating ISIS, Declares War On Israel: 'Oh Soldiers Of The Caliphate Everywhere... Go For The Israeli Settlements And Marketplaces; Turn Them Into Lands For Testing Your Weapons... Attack The Jews And Slaughter Them', January 27, 2020.
 See MEMRI JTTM Reports: For Third Time In 2020, Islamic State's Sinai Province Claims Responsibility For Bombing Egypt-Israel Gas Pipeline, December 29, 2020; ISIS In Sinai Boasts Of Fending Off Egyptian Military Offensives In New Video, January 10, 2021.
 See MEMRI Report: Salafi-Jihadis In Gaza Weigh Acquiescing To Ceasefire Versus Continuing Jihad Against Israel, December 11, 2012.
 See MEMRI JTTM Reports: Pro-ISIS Video Defends Organization Against Opponents' Accusations, February 22, 2021; Pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Video Declares ISIS Is At War With Israel And The Jews And Will Soon Slaughter Them, February 25, 2021.
 Telegram.me/ Al-Murhafat Media Foundation, May 14, 2021.
 The Kharijites or Khawarij were an early Islamic sect that pronounced apostasy on Muslims for even minor sins. The term is used today pejoratively by Muslims to denounce extremist jihadi groups, particularly ISIS.
 Telegram.me/ Al-Murhafat Media Foundation, May 16, 2021.