Israeli Arab Given 3-year Jail Term for Joining ISIS in Syria

23-year-old Hamzah Magamseh admitted he left Israel for Turkey with plans to join the Islamist group.


A 23-year-old resident of the northern Israeli Arab town of Yafiah was sentenced in Nazareth District Court on Friday to three years in prison and fined 10,000 shekels (about $2,700) after being convicted of entering Syria and joining the Islamic State, the group also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Hamzah Magamseh admitted under questioning by the Shin Bet security service that he left Israel last October for Turkey with three friends, with plans to join ISIS and then entered Syria with two of the three. They were received by ISIS, given training, including weapons and fitness training. They were also said to have met another young Israeli from Nazareth at their training camp. After ten days there, Magamseh decided to return to Israel alone. He was arrested at Ben-Gurion International Airport upon his arrival.

At his sentencing, the judges noted in his favor that he admitted most of the details of what he had done early on in his questioning and expressed remorse for his actions. The judges also noted that he had no prior criminal record. The probation authority said his personality was not marked by a pattern of violent behavior and he did not express an extremist worldview. The judges added, however, that “in light of the particular severity of his offenses, importance must be accorded to the interest of deterring others” in their sentencing.