How come Daesh/ISIS does not attack Israel, who are supposed to be their worst enemy?

Precision: I'm not asking the reason for the other way around, why isn't Israel attacking IS I'm asking why isn't IS threatening a country like Israel which is on a long term mission to divide the Arab world.

  • @jon, your question is partly unclear, and I think that reflects in the diversity of the answers. DAESH is present military in Irak and Syria, and does not really have a projection capability. Lybia's base shows the difficulty they have in a failed country. The other one is through terrorists cells attacking people in other countries (USA, Belgium, France, Turkey, ...) which type would you expect them to attempt in Israel? Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 6:20
  • 4
    Can you provide citations about Israel being its worst enemy?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 8:02
  • This seems like a question asking for opinions. Can you give an example of a hypothetical citable fact which can be a possible answer to this question?
    – grovkin
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 9:57
  • Well @grovkin, if you look at the facts, they will show you that IS our or daesh never tried a single attack against Israel even if they reached the very limit of the Syrian border with this country. Since Israel is supposedly the enemy #1 of such self-proclaimed muslims, why did they never threatened them? I'm not asking for some opinion there but for some real hints. Of course everyone has an opinion but maybe we could go beyond them and try to understand this fact. They are threatening and killing other muslims (the chiites), the Christians but not once their supposed enemy #1...
    – jon
    Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 3:08
  • 9
    "a country like Israel which is on a long term mission to divide the Arab world" [citation needed]
    – RedSonja
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 11:00

9 Answers 9


I think there may be a couple of components to this

  1. Israel has excellent defenses and is very strict regarding points of entry into their territory. It's plausible that DAESH has attempted to penetrate and Israel has detained those individuals as high risk, which they do without trial on a regular basis when it comes to Palestinians.

  2. Israel is not waging open warfare on DAESH at the urging of the US State Department it is rumored. The US is concerned that a coalition revolving around a fight with DAESH would be compromised if the coalition included Israel, hence the lack of air strikes from Israel.

  3. DAESH has warned Israel in December of 2015 that they will inject themselves into Palestine and established an Islamic State to include it.


There are a variety of reasons:

  1. ISIS is quite happy with the status quo of Israel attacking, or at least putting pressure on, their main tactical enemies (Shia block in general, in the personification of Hezbollah). If it wasn't for Israel, Hezbollah could have sent a significantly more overwhelming force from Lebanon into Syria.

  2. ISIS has a finite amount of resources. Attacking Israel simply doesn't amount to rational expenditure of said resources to achieve either their tactical goals (establishment of Caliphate) or strategic goals (Triggering apocalyptic conflict with "Rome"). It may offer minor propaganda and morale value, but not nearly enough compared to attacks in Europe.

  3. As another answer alluded to, inspiring local attackers is difficult for them since they are competing ideologically with other Islamist influences (full spectrum from FATEH on less extreme end, on to HAMAS on to Islamic Jihad) which are all locally entrenched. It's far easier to gain an ISIS follower who isn't already committed to competing - and differently goaled - movement.


ISIS seems to have two ways of attacking. In Iraq and Syria, they recruited disaffected Muslims and integrated them into an occupying force that operates locally. Outside of Iraq and Syria, they do not have enough recruits to engage in occupation. They can only encourage terrorists acts. They do this through a combination of internet engagement (e.g. San Bernardino) and direct engagement with people who go to Iraq or Syria to train with them (Paris and Brussels).

I would guess that they haven't (yet) engaged with Muslims in Palestine to occupy territory. And the Israelis already are suspicious of Muslims in Israel. Muslims in Israel don't have the freedom of action that those in the USA and Europe have. This makes it difficult to engage in terrorist attacks.

It's even possible that there have been ISIS attacks in Israel but that they were insufficiently successful to be worth claiming. There is certainly enough conflict there that violent attacks might easily be explained without ISIS. Or ISIS hasn't been able to engage with disaffected Muslims in Israel because they have already joined other groups. Wikipedia lists Hamas as opposing ISIS.

You might also ask why they don't take the occupying forces from Iraq and Syria and go to Israel. The most likely reason is that the areas they occupy aren't that close to Israel. Syria doesn't have much of a border with Israel and Assad's forces are between ISIS and Israel. And of course, if they left their current territory, they might lose it. Perhaps things would change if they defeated Assad.


In a nutshell, Saudi Arabia is a fundamentally theocratic islamic country that is allegedly helping DAESH. They share the same 'ethos' and non-democratic approach to anything, from public executions to women. Saudi Arabia and Israel are friendlies, now it is also stated by the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu 'Israel and Saudi Arabia are allies'.

  • 3
    Welcome to Politics.SE! I think there might be an answer here, but I can't quite see it. Are you trying to say that DAESH doesn't attack Israel because Saudi Arabia is an ally to both of them?
    – Bobson
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 0:35
  • There might be a part of the answer in @Chryssa s answer though...
    – jon
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 1:53
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    But the US is also an ally of Saudi Arabia and has been attacked.
    – Brythan
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 3:05
  • 2
    Now, Saudi Arabia is definitely against ISIS.
    – Anixx
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 12:14
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    There are other allies to Saudi Arabia that have endured some attacks, which makes your answer illogical. Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 8:54

DAESH have the ambition to establish a state. The military actions they take is part of that goal (to keep and expand their territory). Considering that Israel is the local military superpower a direct attack would be suicide.

The terrorist actions have the goal of triggering suppression of Muslims in those countries and they think that will make them more willing to help DAESH. So the targets for terrorist attacks will be places with a quite large, but well integrated Muslim population. Israel does not match that.

  • 8
    Israel's Muslims are arguably far more integrated than, say, French ones. They have lower unemployment, and they almost universally answer polls that they'd rather be citizens of Israel than PA. I'm quite skeptical of your last assertion.
    – user4012
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 16:53
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    ... there are Arab muslim parties in Knesset. I don't think there's Muslim party in French Parlament.
    – user4012
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 17:07
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    @user4012 is the existence of such parties evidence of integration, or lack thereof?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 7:58
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    @AndrewGrimm - evidence of 95% integration. As in, they have enough de-facto power AND de-jure rights to have a full fledged party and to elect enough Parlament members to have a faction. (the last 5% is when they don't need a separate party, but in multi-party system that's really unlikely - heck, even Sephardic Jews have their own separate party (Shas)).
    – user4012
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 13:37

DAESH is still at war in Syria. So they don't have the capabilities (yet) to attack another country. Also knowing that it will be harder to win territory over a well trained and equipped army. I'm interpreting the question as an army kind of attack. Not terrorist attacks, separated in time and place.

If your question is about terrorist attacks (or regardless of type of attack). Then I think the other answers about the influence of hamas, fateh and saudi arabia and the conflict with DAESH could be the reason.

  • 3
    Do you even read the news? so who attacked Brussels then?
    – user2977
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 20:08
  • I'm from Brussels, and I do read the news. I tought the question was about an army attack. I edited my answer to be more clear.
    – roel
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 6:58

It does.

ISIL stands for "Islamic State of Iraq and Levant". ISIS/ISIL/DAESH inherently claims of territory in the Levant, hence, an entire territory of Israel.
BTW, many Israeli politicians oppose calling Islamic State as "ISIL" specifically for this very reason. They prefer "ISIS" or "DAESH" instead.

Image courtesy of

Another thing is that they, for some reason, don't target Israel as their first-order target.

The actual reasoning is usually hard to tell for sure, since we don't know what's on people's mind till they declare something or act accordingly. However, one may speculate that maybe ISIS leaders realize that:

  • Israel Defense Forces are considered powerful enough to defend their country.
    • The type of weapons ISIS possesses (missile launchers, at most) is beyond comparison with Israeli Air Force, Special Ops, or Navy;
    • ISIS militants were mostly trained by their teachers of Ba'ath party of Iraq who, in turn, remember well some brilliant operations carried out in the past by Israeli Air Force. It is possible that the "teachers" taught their "students" to beware;
  • ISIS may need first some stable sources of financing, so capturing oil-rich territory and ability to sell oil may be a priority;
  • 1
    But they've openly threatened the US and other big countries which have, needless to say, a powerful army too
    – jon
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 22:12
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    I'm with @jon. There's nothing about the weapon comparison between ISIS and the IDF that doesn't also apply to ISIS vs the USA. Admittedly, they're closer to Israel, so shorter range weapons are more usable, but that doesn't seem like it'd be a significant factor.
    – Bobson
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 0:38
  • @jon, that's true. As I said, we can't say for sure about the reasons unless they are expressed either by statement or action. The actual answer is the first part of my answer: "The Levant". Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 1:21
  • 4
    I'm not seeing evidence that they are actually attacking Israel. Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 7:54
  • 1
    @bytebuster - I stand corrected; that would count as threatening. I hadn't heard about any of that at the time.
    – Bobson
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 11:15

I think It is not because "Israel has excellent defenses"; since if DAESH want to attack or at least threathen Israel they can do it as Hamas did. Hamas is weaker than DAESH, but they did so.
Israel is the worst enemy of Muslims so attacking Israel rise popularity of DAESH. but DAESH does not attack. Why? because:

As Noor says: The ideology DAESH follows, stems from Wahhabism, which was established in Saudi Arabia by the British Government. Saudi Arabia is common friend of both. British Government is father of Israel and grandfather of DAESH.
If DAESH attack Israel then they become an enemy for U.S, U.K, and all E.U, which I think this is not the case now (Just compare "what Russia did against DAESH in Syria" with "what U.S, U.K, and all E.U did against DAESH in Syria and Iraq"). So DAESH Loses probable hidden support of them. Then DAESH Loses Logistics support of Turkey. No need to say: If DAESH become an enemy for U.S, then Saudi Arabia (which is footboy of U.S) can not support them financially.

Here is a statement about creation of DAESH, which I am not sure if this is a fact, but i add to my answer. If I find evidence for validity, I add it; If not I remove the update:

see TRUMP: 'Hillary Clinton created ISIS with Obama'
and this

  • 3
    There is definitely hidden support...
    – jon
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 13:54
  • 5
    DAESH's origins aren't relevant to the question. Additionally the image is not of al-Baghdadi and Trump isn't a good source.
    – Bobson
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 11:30
  • @Bobson I removed pic. + i dont claim that " Trump is a good source" , as you can see i said I am not sure if this is a fact. + DAESH's origins Are relevant to the question, because if DAESH's origins relate to U.S or U.K, then DAESH takes Caution about israel.
    – user 1
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 16:51
  • 2
    "Israel is the worst enemy of Muslims" - according to whom and what exactly Muslims? Living in Russia and seeing a lot of Muslims around I cannot say so. They are more concerned about Russian Neo-Nazis than Israel.
    – Anixx
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 12:14
  • yes there are local priorities such as what u said, Pakistani may consider India, Yemen may consider Saudi, or... But what i said is overall. according to what? just as u: seeing a lot of Muslims; have a tour in the middle east and talk to people.
    – user 1
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 14:15

How come Daesh/ISIS does not attack Israel, who are supposed to be their worst enemy?...

I think your analysis is pretty crude - to put it mildly. I'm not a student of middle east politics; however, Michael Jansen at the Jordan Times has this to say on Feb 7, 2018:

Israel is inadvisably but increasingly involved in conflicts raging in its northern and southern neighbours. In the north, Israel has for several years provided aid and comfort to Daesh, Al Qaeda, and other insurgents fighting the Syrian government. This began by offering medical treatment to anti-government fighters and gradually involved ministering to wounded civilians, offering humanitarian aid, and paying fighters' salaries.

Isn't this already surprising? I mean, 'providing aid and comfort to Daesh and Al Qaeda'; they also add:

The following is for Ugoren who didn't bother to read the article but was upset I was quoting an Arabic newspaper.

Nour Samaha, writing on The Intercept website on January 23, revealed that Israel intends to create a "safe zone" by expanding the buffer zone along the occupied Golan Heights into the Syrian provinces of Quneitra and Daraa. Justification for Israel's latest land-grab in Syria is its determination that the Israeli army must not confront the Syrian army, Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Lebanon's Hizbollah fighters along the Golan ceasefire line...


It is ironic, therefore, that Israel is bombing Daesh in Egypt while supporting Daesh in Syria. Preserving Daesh and allied taqfiris as an "asset" anywhere is a dangerous, cynical game which will have fresh "unintended consequences" for Israel and for its allies in the approving West.

Just from this we can see that the situation is quite a bit more complex that you're supposing it to be.

  • 1
    You're citing an opinion column as if it was fact. The column doesn't offer any reference to its claims. The article's main claim - that Israel is planning to occupy Syrian territory to create a "safe zone" - didn't realize so far, 3 months after it was made.
    – ugoren
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 6:53
  • @ugoren: I'm quoting a reputable newspaper as a newspaper. I've often quoted Haaretz here without a problem. Could it be that the problem is that it is an Arabic newpaper? In that case shame on you for your prejudice and bias. Commented May 1, 2018 at 22:51
  • @ugoren:I do not believe that you are upset that the "column doesn't offer any references for its claims"; nor do I believe that you even read the linked column otherwise you would have noticed:"Nour Samaha, writing on The Intercept website on January 23, revealed that Israel intends to create a "safe zone" by expanding by expanding the buffer zone along the occupied Golan Heights into the Syrian provinces of Quneitra and Daraa". You're a liar. Commented May 1, 2018 at 23:02
  • @ugoren: Here's the referenced article in the Intercept by Nour Samaha; it's titled - "Israels safe zone is creeping further into Syria". Are you happy now, or are you even more upset? Commented May 1, 2018 at 23:04
  • @ugoren: By the way do you not understand the meaning of English words like 'plan' or 'intends'? Commented May 1, 2018 at 23:10

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