The United States and Russia may be hitting ISIS harder than anyone, with constant attacks from the air, but Israel is the only country the Islamic State group truly fears, according to a German reporter who spent 10 days with the organization in Iraq and Syria.
“The only country ISIS fears is Israel,” Jürgen Todenhöfer, 75, who visited the territory under the control of ISIS accompanied by his son, told British online news site Jewish News. “They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them.”
In 2014, Todenhöfer, a former member of the German Parliament from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, visited Syria and Iraq, becoming the first Western journalist to be allowed extensive access to ISIS territory – and to return safely from the trip. He has since written the book “My 10 Days in the Islamic State“, published in 2015.
In a subsequent interview he explains that ISIL is a reaction to violent actions taken by western countries in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. “They think they can defeat U.S. and U.K. ground troops, who they say have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies. But they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists,” Todenhöfer told Jewish News
At the same time, Israel does not seem to fear the same thing with ISIS. Former head of IDF Intelligence Amos Yadlin on Wednesday expressed a contrarian opinion on the dangers of the terrorist group ISIS, responsible for the beheadings of journalists, as well as thousands of “infidels” in Iraq and Syria who do not subscribe to their particular brand of Islam. According to Yadlin, there’s nothing to fear from ISIS.
Nor should they worry. The Israeli Defense Forces is one of the most powerful militaries on earth – with 176,500 active soldiers, and a reserve force of 450,000 that can be called up at any moment, they dwarf the estimated military strength of ISIS (approx 20,000 fighters) by nearly 30 to 1.
But Israel’s secret strength is in its mandatory military service for all 18 year olds in the country, both male and female. In fact, the 1.6 million females trained and fit for service gives Israel the greatest shoeing of female military might possibly in world history.
Mandatory conscription means that today, over 1/2 of Israel – more than 3 million people – have been actively trained and have served in the Israeli forces over the last 60+ years.
Then there’s the equipment – while ISIS apparently is in possession of a few tanks, Israel’s military equipment is vast: with over 3,700 tanks, 6,000 armoured personnel carriers, 1,200+ artillery pieces, 680 F15 and F16 fighter jets, over 50 naval ships and even 5 submarines, the legendary armies of Israel could even take on a military the size of America’s
Speaking at an Ashkelon College in September 2014, Yadlin said that despite the shocking videos the group released showing the beheadings of journalists Steve Sotloff and James Foley, “there is no real reason to fear. ISIS is very good at media relations, and using the media to frighten people. They murder their captives in a shocking manner in order to get media attention.”
The terrorist group may have been bolstered this week when Russia announced it was suspending their air strikes in Syria, declaring their mission a success. Yet ISIS remains as strong as ever in the embattled country torn apart by a four-year Civil War, so clearly they were not Russia’s intended target. However, Russia “obliterated” a key ISIS base in Syria in October 2015 with a series of airstrikes, so they did have some supporting role to play in the conflict that can’t be denied.
President Vladimir Putin stated yesterday (Thursday, March 17) however that Russia could scale up its military presence in Syria again “within hours” and would still bomb terrorist groups there despite a partial draw-down of forces ordered after military successes.
However, it’s their definition of what constitutes a “terrorist” group that has some scratching their heads. And though they continually state they are “bombing ISIS targets”, they aren’t in the right part of the country to be able to make that claim.
As ISIS and Israel move toward a showdown, stay tuned, this story is definitely not yet fully told, and we will bring it to you as it unfolds.