Cabinet declares Islamic State, Nusra Front terror groups
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Cabinet declares Islamic State, Nusra Front terror groups

Israeli Arabs joining rebel groups not a widespread trend, says defense minister after Jaljulia man hang-glides across border to Syria

Then-defense minister Moshe Ya'alon looks through binoculars during a visit at an army exercise of the Armored Corps, in the Golan Heights on October 22, 2015. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)
Then-defense minister Moshe Ya'alon looks through binoculars during a visit at an army exercise of the Armored Corps, in the Golan Heights on October 22, 2015. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)

The Israeli cabinet announced Sunday that Islamic State, al Nusra Front and the Abdullah Azam Brigades have been officially declared terror groups, along with other groups participating in the Syrian civil war.

The announcement follows the recommendation of the Shin Bet security service.

“The Islamic State organization is expanding the territory under its control and at the same time winning widespread support among Muslims in the Middle East and around the world,” read a statement issued by the cabinet after its weekly meeting.

“We are fighting terror organizations all the time,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the beginning of the meeting. “Those who join the enemy ranks in order to fight against Israel will not be citizens of Israel anymore.”

Netanyahu was referring to an incident that occurred Saturday afternoon, when a young man from the central Israel village of Jaljulia crossed the border to Syria using a glider.

The man, who comes from a secular family but had started becoming more religious, apparently crossed the border in order to join a rebel group. Shortly after his arrival in Syria, his family received a phone call that said, “Your son is OK, he’s with us, don’t worry.” The caller immediately hung up, and according to the man’s father, had a Bedouin accent.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Israeli Arabs joining Islamic State was not a widespread trend. “Until now, we are talking about several dozen young people influenced by what they see on the internet,” he said.

Speaking to Israel Radio after the cabinet meeting, Ya’alon said the jihadists surrounding Israel are deterred from starting a fight “because they know our might and are mostly busy with toppling the regimes of their own countries.”

On Friday, Islamic State published its first-ever Hebrew-language video. In the clip, addressing an Israeli audience, a man wearing a ski mask and army uniform warns that “no Jew will be left [alive]” once Islamic State fighters conquer Jordan and arrive at Israel’s borders.

“This is a message to all the Jews, who are the Muslims’ No. 1 enemy,” says a masked man in green fatigues in fluent, if slightly Arabic- and French-accented, Hebrew. “The real war has not even begun and everything you have experienced so far has been child’s play — [it is] nothing compared to what will happen to you soon enough, inshallah [God willing],” he warns.

“We promise you that soon, not one Jew will be left [alive] in Jerusalem or across Israel and we will continue until we eradicate this disease [Judaism?] from the world,” he goes on.

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