Barzilai Medical Center in the southern Israel coastal city of Ashkelon confirmed on Sunday that one of its doctors had recently joined the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) and had been killed while fighting for the Islamist horde in Syria.
Athman Abed Al-Kayan, 23, had recently completed his studies in neighboring Jordan and had returned to Israel to intern at Barzilai. He was scheduled to begin a second internship at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva in May of this year, but never showed up.
Nearly six months ago, Al-Kayan suddenly decided to travel to Turkey with a friend, not an unusual journey for young Israeli Jews and Arabs to make. But when he failed to return home, Al-Kayan’s family went searching for him.
“We located the hotel they were staying in and found their belongings there. At the hotel we were told they hired a car and just left. We waited for them, but after two days when they didn’t come back we went back to Israel,” Al-Kayan’s brother told Israel’s Ynet news portal. “Police told us that they probably left Turkey for Syria.”
The brother said that his family later received a phone call from a blocked number informing them that Athman had been killed in battle fighting on behalf of ISIS.
Over the past 6–9 months, some 30 Israeli Arabs have joined up with Islamist forces in Syria and Iraq, including ISIS. Nearly all of them have traveled via Turkey, where unconfirmed reports suggest a specific hotel along the Turkey-Syria border is being used as a recruitment center, with little or no interference from the Turkish regime.