The Israeli General Security Services have announced on Thursday the capture of an ISIS cell in September made up of Israeli Arabs from the town of Tayibe. The capture marks a new low in the tenuous relationship between Israeli Arabs and their home country.
Tayibe is an Arab city (pop. 40,000) in central Israel, located about 7 miles east of Kfar Saba, part of the Arab Triangle region. During the 1948 War of Independence, Israeli forces captured the Tayibe fields, but not the town itself. Tayibe was then transferred to Israel in the 1949 ceasefire agreement with Jordan. In the process, the residents have claimed the state had taken away from them more than two thirds of their lands. Tayibe became a local council in 1952, and in 1990 was declared a city. The city is 100% Arab, 99.7% Muslim.
In 1996, Hapoel Tayibe F.C. became the first Israeli Arab soccer club to play in the top division. We mention this relatively obscure point because the ISIS cell were arrested after attempting to set on fire the local soccer stadium during the Muslim Holiday of the Sacrifice.
In fact, the three cell members, all Tayibe residents — Ibrahim a Halim Mahmoud Sheikh Yousef, 26, Mohammed Tamim a Qader Nashef, 32, and Amir a Hakim Hafez Gevara, 20 — were dyed in the wool ISIS fans, setting their crosshairs on activities they considered immoral and contrary to the principles of the Islamic State.
Amir Gevara was arrested back in April 2016 by Turkish security when he was attempting to cross the border into Syria, to join ISIS there. As soon as he returned to Israel Gevara was interrogated by the GSS and by police.
Ibrahim Sheikh Yousef was also planning to leave for Syria, for which task he designed and built a pedal powered glider, which he tested once. He was helped by Gevara.
The three cell members also planned to smuggle illegal weapons from Tulkarm, in preparation for the “day of judgement.” The began digging a tunnel from the PA area into Israel, for transporting the smuggled weapons.
The three men were indicted on Tuesday in Lod District Court.