Israeli Who Joined Rebel Forces in Syria Reported Killed

The man’s family lost track of him after he traveled to Turkey. They received notice of his death, along with a photo in which they could identify him.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

A resident of Mushirfa, a village in Wadi Ara, who fought alongside Syrian rebel forces, was reported killed there in clashes recently, after his family received notice of his death.

Mueid Zachi Agabaria, 28, who married only a few months ago, decided several weeks ago to travel to Turkey, after which his family lost track of him. At the same time, two young men from Umm al-Fahm also disappeared, and their families believe that they, too, have joined rebel forces battling against President Bashar Assad. Their families had reported their disappearance to the police, as well as the Foreign Ministry.

Residents of Mushirfa said the family received a notice of the man’s death with a picture attached in which they were able to identify him. The family erected a mourner’s tent and was receiving visitors on Monday. Village residents described a quiet and modest man who was religious and known to be following developments in Syria, but who had not discussed his plans to join the fighting with anyone.

Since the start of the Syrian civil war two years ago, there have been periodic reports of Israeli Arabs who travel to Turkey and make their way to the Syrian border in order to join rebel groups. The uncle of one such fighter, who preferred to remain nameless, said that this was turning into a very worrying phenomenon.

“Meanwhile we’re talking about a few individuals so no one is paying much attention, but I very much hope that the Israeli Arab leadership takes a clear position on this and that they address it in the mosques,” the man said.

“Sometimes young people don’t internalize the seriousness of the situation and the danger, and they go as if it’s some kind of trip or adventure, which it certainly is not.”

In March, security forces arrested a 29-year-old man from Taibeh, Hikmat Masarwa, at Ben-Gurion Airport immediately upon his return from Turkey, and later charged him with infiltrating Syria through the Turkish border and joining the rebels for ideological reasons.

“On March 17, when the limited fighting in the area didn’t meet his militant expectations, and because he couldn’t locate his brother and was under pressure from his family in Israel, the accused left the rebel unit and returned to Turkish territory,” the indictment read. Two days afterward, Masarwa returned to Israel.

Masarwa’s family denied that he had joined in the fighting, saying that he had gone to Syria to find his brother, who had traveled there earlier to fight alongside the rebels.

Syrian rebels open fire as they battle against the Syrian forces in Aleppo, Syria on August 12, 2013. Credit: AP

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