A total of 34 Israeli Arabs have been indicted for offenses related to activities on behalf of Islamic State, a TV report said Thursday, adding that the terror group was steadily growing in popularity in Israel.
The Channel 10 report said Islamic State has been working relentlessly to encourage a major terrorist attack in Israel. It said IS has some 100 activists in Israel at present. The report referenced the January 1, 2016 killings of three Israelis in Tel Aviv by Israeli Arab Nashat Milhem, and a stabbing attack the same month by a Sudanese migrant in Israel, as having been inspired by Islamic State.
It also said 40 Israeli Arabs have left Israel to join up with Islamic State forces, largely traveling via Turkey. Ten Palestinians are currently “missing” from Palestinian Authority areas and believed to have joined up with IS, it added.
The TV report came on the same day that the Shin Bet security agency released details of an alleged plot by two Arab Israelis inspired by the Islamic State to attack IDF soldiers.
Bahaa Eldin Ziad Hasan Masarwa, 19, and Ahmad Nabil Ahmad Ahmad, 21, were arrested in a joint operation by the Shin Bet and Israel Police earlier this year.
During their interrogations, the two confessed to having been inspired by IS, the security service said.
“Over the past few months the two began praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on a weekly basis, and during one of their trips the two decided to carry out a shooting attack against security forces,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
The pair were from northern Israeli cities, Masarwa from Yafia and Ahmad from Nazareth.
The two planned to shoot IDF soldiers in the nearby Israeli city of Afula and had begun collecting money in order to purchase a pistol for the attack, the Shin Bet said.
In 2014, three residents of Yafia entered Syria through Turkey and joined the Islamic State.
Masarwa and Ahmad were indicted in a Nazareth District Court for conspiracy to commit a crime and aiding the enemy during wartime. In addition, Masarwa has been charged with contacting a foreign agent and making contact with a terrorist organization.