Israel imprisons Arab citizen for joining Syria fight

An Israeli court on Monday sentenced an Arab citizen to 11 months in prison for travelling to fight alongside Syrian rebels in the Jewish state`s war-torn neighbour.

AFP| Updated: Mar 23, 2015, 22:30 PM IST

Jerusalem: An Israeli court on Monday sentenced an Arab citizen to 11 months in prison for travelling to fight alongside Syrian rebels in the Jewish state`s war-torn neighbour.

Several Arab Israelis have been arrested after returning from Syria, where armed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad is now dominated by jihadists, including the Islamic State group.

Yusef Nasrallah traveled via Jordan to Syria where his intention was to "die as a martyr alongside rebels" fighting Assad, the court said in its verdict.

But two days after reaching Syria, Nasrallah was arrested by the Assad regime and spent eight months in prison where he was "tortured and interrogated".

During that time, he passed on information about an Israeli military base, the court said, without elaborating.

Nasrallah was released and returned to Israel in December, where the Shin Bet domestic security service detained him.

Several Arab Israelis have been convicted for attempts to join Syrian rebels.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon recently said that others had gone specifically to join IS, which holds swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.

IS purportedly executed an Arab Israeli earlier this month who had gone to join the group, accusing him of being an Israeli spy.

An IS video appeared to show a child shooting Mohammed Musallam in the head.

Security authorities say they know of about 30 Arab Israelis who have made their way to Syria to fight for jihadist groups against Assad`s regime, but that only a few joined IS.

Arab Israelis number around 1.4 million, just over 20 percent of Israel`s population.

They are the descendents of the 160,000 Palestinian Arabs who remained on their land when the Jewish state was established in 1948.

Israel and Syria are technically still at war following their 1967 and 1973 conflicts.