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Is It against Israeli Law to Fight with Syrian Rebels?

It is forbidden to travel to enemy states, such as Syria. That was enough to jail an Israeli Arab, who was spared a heavier sentence because there is no law against fighting with Syrian rebels.

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Syrian rebels.

Syrian rebels.



An Israeli court on Monday sentenced an Arab with Israeli citizenship to 30 months in jail for traveling to the enemy state of Syria, where he joined the rebels for a week before changing his mind when he was asked to carry out a suicide attack in Israel.

State prosecutors charged him with training with radical Islamists in Syria, but a court in Lod, near Tel Aviv, decided against imposing the maximum 15-year jail sentence on the man because, according to Judge Avraham Yaakov, “There’s no legal guidance regarding the rebel groups fighting in Syria.”

Israel arrested Hikmat Massarwa in March after he returned to the country from Syria, via Turkey, after having sought out his brother. He is fighting with the rebels, assuming he still is alive.

He argued that although Syrian President Bassar al-Assad and the government of Syria are enemies of Israel, the rebels are not a danger to the country.

Since the “friendly” rebels asked him to kill as many Israelis as possible in a suicide attack, Massarwa finally pleaded guilty to travelling to a hostile country and meeting with foreign agents. The charges of training with an illegal militia were dropped, and Massarwa admitted that his short adventure could have threatened Israel’s security.

If nothing else, the case proves that whoever wins in Syria, if anyone ever does, Israel will be faced with an enemy state.

The case also is one more in a growing list of Arabs with Israeli citizenship who work with Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups to work against the country. The vast majority of Israeli Arabs are not considered to be openly hostile to the country, but  a growing ”Fifth Column,” incited by radical Arab Knesset Members, has raised concerns in the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).

There is no massive wave of Israeli Arabs working against the country, but there are large areas of blatant anti-Israeli activity, particularly in the Bedouin city of Tel Sheva, adjacent to Be’er Sheva, and in the Islamic Movement’s northern branch in Umm el Faham.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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