The Islamic State and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Religious Propaganda and Global Call to Action

Islamic State and the Israel-Palestine conflict
The current situation in the Gaza Strip has created the fertile ground for a new Islamic State’s propaganda (Credits: SpecialEurasia Monitoring & Risk Analysis Map)

Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 40 Issue 6
Author: Christian Tratzi

Starting from the beginning of the new year, the Islamic State has launched a violent propaganda campaign through its online dissemination channels to radicalise and mobilising its militants in their respective provinces. Through an audio message released on the I’lam Foundation platform, delivered by its official spokesperson Abu Hudhayfah al-Ansari and translated into several languages by the Al-Furqan platform, the Islamic State has presented its new strategy and invited its militants to action.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip could have represented one of the main reasons that pushed the Islamic State to communicate a new approach to the Middle Eastern dynamics characterised by the Islamic Resistance Movement’s attack against Israeli cities on October 7th, 2023, and the following Tel Aviv’s military operation in the Gaza Strip.

The suffering and loss of life among Muslims in Gaza has led to the Islamic State launching a campaign to support Gaza, Palestine, and wage a global jihad against those who oppress them and their allies. Indeed, according to the terrorist groups’ propaganda, helping Gaza, specifically, would distinguish a genuine Muslim from a non-believer, categorising the latter as infidels. The call also presents global characteristics and concerns, not only the situation in Palestine.

The message’s narrative is centred around finding a doctrinal basis that aligns with the Wahhabi-Salafist interpretation of Islam. It aims to legitimise its campaign by presenting religious elements and highlighting its cause and objectives. There are existing sources and concepts that endorse and justify violent actions, including the possibility of future attacks, by using religious beliefs.

The global attacks that ensued after the message was released have embodied the campaign’s slogan of “And kill them wherever you find them,” illustrating a commitment to turning words into actions. Throughout the months, graphical depictions, including both illustrations of speech elements and symbolic imagery, have been employed to reinforce the campaign’s message.

The Islamic State’s new campaign could therefore make up a factor of violent radicalisation in the West and could lead to the completion of willing actions, representing a significant risk to international security, especially in the correspondence of Ramadan.

Propaganda Key-Points and Analysis

  1. Fight against Jews. The suffering in Gaza is the suffering of all Muslims. For this reason, the Islamic State calls for fighting the Jews in the shade of Allah, invoking global support.
  2. Global Call to Action. To truly make a difference, it is not sufficient to only fight against Israel. The targets of the actions should be Jews, Christians (named Crusaders), and their allies.
  3. Religious Propaganda. In the call to jihad, the Islamic State bases its discourse on the foundations of religion, mentioning sacred sources and doctrinal elements specific to Wahhabi-Salafist Islam, urging the fight or support for the true religion in opposition to the infidels.

Read also | Syria: Assessing the Threat of the Islamic State

Fight against Jews

The struggle against the Jews constitutes the first element of analysis. The perpetrators portray crimes and killings against Muslims in Gaza as centenary practices that have caused suffering and despair to oppressed Muslims. In the name of Allah’s law rather than that of men, the invitation of the Islamic State is to fight Jewish individuals and institutions not only in Palestine but in any territory, referring to the battles of Prophet Muhammad and the four rightly guided caliphs.

The aim of the battle is to secure freedom for Gaza, as well as al-Aqsa and the entirety of Palestinian land. Fighting the oppressors, in fact, represents both an individual and a collective obligation.

The Islamic State invites to the fight by mentioning Surah al-Nisa (4:75) against the oppressors. The graphical representation of the specific message depicts a child walking amidst the rubble of a territory (presumably representing Palestine), showing the intention to reach a young audience by exploiting the context of suffering to obtain new recruits.

“Listen O fighter, for I advise you honestly as you are exposed to death at every moment. It is time for you to adjust your path and fight the Jews under the rule of the heavens and not those of heart, in the shade of Allah’s Shari’a and not the laws of mankind, as Prophet Muhammad fought before us, and as Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, May Allah be pleased with them, fought: O Allah, when we accomplish it, bear witness for us. O Allah, when we accomplish it, bear witness for us. O Allah, when we accomplish it, bear witness for us”. (Abu Hudhayfah al-Ansari, “And kill them wherever you find them”).

To confront Israel and face the constant threat of death, it is imperative to adhere to the laws of Allah. According to Islamic State’s message, the fighters must launch the attack indiscriminately, without borders, but in every place where there are Jewish targets. The awaiting the day of liberation, which, according to Abu Hudhayfah, is soon to come, even at the cost of present deaths and destruction.

Global Call to Action

A comparison between Muslim suffering in Gaza accompanies the call to action against Israel and what happens in defiance of Muslims universally. Considering the Muslim umma (community) as the only universal one, and resorting to the Prophet’s Sunna, Abu Hudhayfah deems support in the name of brotherhood necessary and incites to attack not only Jews but also their allies (or perceived as such) wherever they may be. The message corresponds to a global call for jihad, identifying the target in Western and Arab countries.

“And because words must be matched with deeds, starting with our Shari’a obligation to support our Muslim brothers wherever they may be, including Palestine, and in light of our faith that the battle is with the jews and their allies in every place, the Islamic State calls to action its soldiers specifically, and all Muslims eager to support the oppressed generally, to target the Jews, Crusaders and their criminal allies in every spot on the earth and under every sky”.
Abu Hudhayfah al-Ansari, “And kill them wherever you find them”.

The Islamic State has identified Western governments, defined as infidels (kuffar), as allies of Israel and has therefore ordered its members to kill as many civilians and military personnel as possible, similar to how they claim Israel is indiscriminately killing Muslims in Gaza.

Abu Hudhayfah then shifts his focus towards criticising Arab governments, particularly Egypt, Jordan, and Gulf countries, which he holds responsible for the campaign he labels as the Jewish-Crusaders’ aggression against Muslims. Abu Hudhayfah aims to create a historical narrative within the jihadist movement by connecting the current cause to past conflicts that have affected the Muslim world, such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, which the anti-Muslim alliance may have been involved in. Iran, although engaged in the Palestine conflict, is often accused of pursuing its own interests and is consequently labelled as an enemy.

The Islamic State’s campaign “And kill them wherever you find them” has led to an increase in terrorist attacks, especially in Africa and Asia, areas where both propaganda and actions by militants belonging to the respective provinces of the Islamic State have led to a growth in violence and the terrorist threat. The targets of the actions have been civilian (especially Christians), military, and institutional objectives, and sometimes, the aim of the actions has been the geopolitical control of territories and natural resources.

Religious Propaganda

The propaganda employs religious elements extensively to justify and encourage action against Israel, Christians, and perceived adversaries of Islam. Abu Hudhayfah consistently references sacred sources, and the campaign takes its name from a famous Quranic statement (”And kill them wherever you find them”), found in Surah al-Baqara (2:191). This verse, along with the preceding one (2:190), is used to define the conduct of jihad (”do not exceed the limits”, “fight only those who fight you”) and provide justification for combat.

The Islamic State aims to emphasise the sacredness of combat by referencing this surah, underscoring the defensive nature of the call to jihad in response to the Israeli attack on Gaza. Indiscriminate killing of enemies of Islam, particularly polytheists, is also present in Surah At-Tawbah, specifically in the so-called “verse of the sword”, 9:7 (”But once the Sacred Months have passed, kill the polytheists wherever you find them”). Both the Quran and Hadith include passages that criticise Jews and Christians.

Another idea promoted in the propaganda campaign of the Islamic State is the concept of al-wala’ wa-l-bara’, which translates to “association and dissociation”. This fundamental concept in Salafi ideology highlights the importance of building strong bonds with fellow believers (al-wala’) while actively avoiding (al-bara’) any association with non-believers and their potentially corrupting impact.

This helps distinguish tawhid (the oneness of God) from shirk (associating partners with God). They identify those who do not support Gaza, including Israelis, Westerners, and some Muslims, as infidels (kuffar), and thus deem them deserving of combat.

Why does it matter?

The call for a global struggle against Jews can represent a significant danger to the national security of Israel and international security. Israelis are direct targets of the Islamic State’s campaign, which encourages attacks “on the earth and under every sky”. Civilian and institutional targets in every country may be subject to attacks by members of active Islamic State cells or by simply radicalised sympathisers. The Palestinian cause, always a constant in radical Islamic rhetoric, could also attract the attention of individuals who do not identify with terrorist organisations but rather with the cause, thereby increasing the level of alertness.

Similarly, considering the global nature of Abu Hudhayfah’s call to jihad, authorities have also increased the alert for attacks throughout the European continent, identifying numerous countries as Israeli allies and infidels. Portraying support for Israel or the absence of support for Palestinians is depicted as an assault on the Muslim community.

The directive is to target civilian and military army indiscriminately (graphic representation shows the use of firearms and IEDs) of the so-called “infidels” wherever they may be in the world. This message may lead to action by individuals affiliated with the Islamic State or its sympathisers, as well as by individuals who identify with the Palestinian cause or have ties to the Muslim world, undermining the security of European territory.

The spread of propaganda within extremist circles worldwide, both online and in person, can constitute an additional component of risk. The translation of messages into various European languages can show the Islamic State’s intention to reach a larger audience on the continent, showing the potential presence of sympathisers to whom the message is directed. This could lead Muslims who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause or to the Islamic State to transform the campaign into action.

Read also | Iran’s Backing of Palestine: a Historical and Ideological Convergence

Scenario Analysis

  1. Increase of propaganda. Following the path taken with the new year and considering the deteriorating situation in Palestine, the Islamic State intensifies its campaign by further radicalising the message, aiming to increase the number of affiliations with the group.
  2. Risk of violent actions, especially in the West. Individuals affiliated with or sympathetic to the Islamic State, responding to the call to jihad, may translate their activities into violent actions. Europe, being a direct target of the campaign (both for Israeli and Western targets), is at elevate risk of terrorist attacks on its territory.
  3. Geopolitical shift in Gaza. Through a diplomatic agreement, albeit difficult to achieve, hostilities come to an end. However, this may not correspond to a decrease in the risk of attacks, which would remain high throughout the territory, nor would it correspond to the end of the call to jihad issued by the Islamic State.


The violent global campaign launched by the Islamic State poses a risk at the international level. By seeking religious legitimacy, there is an apparent intention to sanctify actions, resulting in heightened alert levels because of the identification of targets both in the Middle East and globally, particularly during (and after) the sacred month of Ramadan. The response to the call by affiliates or sympathisers of the Islamic State could cause attacks, mimicking international security. The first developments have occurred in Africa, where there has been a significant increase in attacks in the early months of 2024.

To ensure the security of the European continent, it will be necessary to monitor potential spaces of radicalisation (both physical and online) and constantly examine publications and calls to action by the Islamic State. This includes considering a increase in alertness in specific regions because of publications in the respective languages of the territory.

For those with an interest in acquiring comprehensive insights into the Islamic State’s propaganda and its impact in the Middle East, we encourage you to reach out to our team by emailing We are ready to help you assess the opportunity to obtain a meticulously crafted and specialised report tailored to your intelligence needs.

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