Defense Experts Warn Israel of Possible ISIS Threat
As the battle rages between Islamists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and Iraqi forces, the US, EU, and UN have begun to take notice - and Middle Eastern leaders are expressing concern for their safety.
But how far can the battle reach?
On Friday, former Israeli intelligence expert Jacques Neriah suggested in a CNN interview that Israel must prepare itself for the eventuality that the battle could reach the shores of Tel Aviv - despite the fact that the fighting rages more than 915 kilometers (595 miles) away.
According to Neriah, the current crisis in the Middle East has made Israel relatively quiet, and could buy the IDF time to prepare.
"Everyone is busy killing one another in the Arab world - it gives Israel a 'time out' to reorganize and to prepare itself for the long run," Neriah stated.
"If Iraq falls in the hands of ISIS, then we will have a terrorist state - where terrorists will be trained, will be equipped, will be financed by an [entire] state and not by an organization which is [in] hiding."
Analysts have noted that the real threat to Israel's security would not be a direct assault from ISIS, which would have to overcome the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria, re-mobilize, and then launch an attack from Israel's northern neighbor to succeed.
The real threat from the ISIS stems from its reputation, as its success could spur increased terror activity from ISIS-affiliated groups in Gaza and the Sinai desert.
The ISIS has already controlled the Iraqi city of Fallujah for five months, and has also led one of the strongest rebel movements fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria.
But this week's offensive has seen the ISIS claim a stunning number of victories in a lighting-fast takeover of the flashpoint region.
So far, the Islamists have made a systemic advance from northern Iraq southward.
Advancing toward Baghdad, large-scale clashes have erupted in Samarra; on the eastern front, Kurdish forces took Kirkuk to fend off the Islamist advance on Thursday, and the town of Jawlala fell to ISIS on Friday.