An Arab citizen of Israel received a three-year prison sentence Wednesday for traveling to Syria and joining the Islamic State’s ranks.
Hamza Magamzeh, 22, was found guilty by the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court on four counts, including contact with a foreign agent and entering an enemy country. Even though Magamzeh received “the most serious punishment leveled against someone who joined the Islamic State to date,” Channel 2 quoted sources in the prosecution as saying, the state intended to appeal and ask for a harsher sentence.
In general, people convicted on such charges usually get between six and 12 years.
Magamzeh was arrested in October after returning from Syria via Turkey. Magamzeh left Israel for Turkey on October 5. He and two friends from his hometown of Yafia, outside Nazareth, then crossed into Syria and arrived at an Islamic State training camp, the Shin Bet said in a statement announcing his arrest.
Magamzeh and his two friends, Muhammad Kilani and Muhammad Kananeh, went through several weeks of basic training, where they learned to operate weapons.
During the introductory course the men met a fourth Arab citizen of Israel, Maharan Khaldi, 19, of Nazareth, who had left for Syria earlier in October.
After 10 days in the country, Magamzeh left Syria, “deciding to return to his family,” the Shin Bet said, and made his way back to Turkey and onto an Israel-bound jet. He was arrested upon arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
The Shin Bet has barred several individuals, many of whom are students in their late teens and early 20s, from trying to leave the country for Syria and advocated for severe prison sentences for those who are caught upon return.
“The departure of Arabs from Israel for Syria, and their stay there alongside global jihad elements, constitutes a series of threats,” the Shin Bet wrote in a report.
Foremost among those threats, the security organization said, was the possibility that the terror groups in Syria would use the Israeli volunteers to “learn the Israeli arena” in order to carry out terror attacks there. “The threat potential, from that perspective, is only intensified by the fact of the shared border between Israel and Syria and the possibility of acting against it [Israel] in the area.”
Additionally, the Shin Bet wrote in a recent report, the Israeli volunteers could be used to further an Islamist ideological agenda in Israel, to wittingly or unwittingly offer logistical aid to terror networks in Israel, and, “even to establish terror cells and carry out attacks.”