Israeli security experts are growing concerned by the recent documented participation by Israeli Arabs in Syria’s bloody civil war.
By and large, those Israeli Arabs crossing the border are siding with the fanatical Islamists trying to bring down the regime of brutal dictator Bashar Assad. Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency fears that these Arabs will return home radicalized and with advanced military training and experience.
Hundreds of young Muslims from all over the Middle East and Europe have flocked to Syria to join the fighting. Most are between 20 and 30-years-old, and many are simply seeking adventure by deliberately risking their lives.
“This is an international phenomenon. It does not surprise me that Israeli Arabs are joining it,” Yonatan Pine, an expert on international religious extremist groups, told the daily newspaper Israel Hayom.
Even if only a handful of Israeli Arabs take part in this “adventure,” Israel must monitor the situation very closely. Currently, authorities estimate that between 15 and 30 Israeli Arabs are currently fighting in Syria.
Last week, the ongoing civil war claimed its first Israeli Arab casualty: Moueed Zaki Juma, a young man from the small Lower Galilee town of Umm el-Fahm. Juma, who had married just a year earlier, was killed in a clash with Syrian government forces. His family believed Juma had traveled with friends to Greece or Turkey for holiday, and were surprised to hear he had instead joined the rebels in Syria.