February 25, 2016 / 1:07 PM / a year ago

Israel says Sudanese who wounded soldier was Islamic State sympathizer

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Sudanese migrant who stabbed and wounded a soldier in Israel two weeks ago was motivated by Islamic State ideology, the Shin Bet internal security service said on Thursday.

It was the first such attack by an African migrant during five months when Palestinians have intensified anti-Israeli street attacks including stabbing, shootings and car ramming. The Sudanese assailant, Kamal Has, was shot dead after he wounded the soldier in the town of Ashkelon on Feb. 7.

The bloodshed has been fueled by factors including a dispute over Jerusalem's a-la's mosque compound and the failure of several rounds of peace talks to secure the Palestinians an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.

In a statement, the Shin Bet said Has san was a devout Muslim and that investigators found photos of "Islamic State loyalists taken in locations around the world" on his cellphone.

"It looks like the attack was inspired by ISIS," the statement said, stopping short of alleging that Has had received direct instructions from the group.

Since October, Palestinian street attacks have killed 28 Israelis and a U.S. citizen. Israeli security forces have killed at least 168 Palestinians, 111 of whom Israel says were assailants, while most others were shot dead during violent anti-Israeli protests.

What constitutes genuine Islamic State action outside its Middle East fiefdom is a question bedeviling security agencies worldwide. Israeli security services, like many around the world, are concerned by the prospect of "lone wolf" attacks by assailants influenced by Islamic State and its powerful social media outreach.

Last year, the Shin Bet arrested several Israeli Arabs it said were trying to form an armed cell under orders from two fellow citizens fighting with Islamic State in Iraq.

Israel faces more active threats from armed Palestinian factions like Hamas, as well as from Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon, though officials point to Islamic State affiliates in the Egyptian Sinai as having the potential to launch cross-border attacks too.

Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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