Jerusalem: Israel on Sunday laid charges against seven Arab Israelis over allegations they set up a militant cell linked to the Islamic State group, the Shin Bet internal security agency said.
The seven, who all come from Israel`s northern Galilee region, were all arrested in November and December and indicted at Haifa District Court on Sunday. They are aged between 22 and 40.
Shin Bet said they were indicted on charges of "membership of, and activity within an illegal organisation, support for a terror organisation and attempts to make contact with an enemy agent".
In September, Israel outlawed both IS and the Al-Qaeda affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades as "illegal organisations", allowing for legal measures to be taken against them or anyone supporting or financing them.
In a statement, Shin Bet identified the ringleader as 40-year-old Adnan Alaaeddin and said the group met frequently with a radical Salafist cleric.
"Adnan presented himself to the other members as an senior commander within the Islamic State group in Palestine and he was a dominant figure among the activists. During their meetings, Adnan would urge them to carry out military operations and attacks on Jews," it said.
Another suspect, Karim Abu Salah, 22, was arrested at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv as he was heading to Syria to join the ranks of the jihadists, it said.
During his interrogation, he admitted buying weapons to carry out a shooting attack against Israel security forces and members of the Druze minority who serve in the police and army, the agency said.
Although Israel has previously arrested individuals for travelling to Syria to join jihadist groups, this was the first cell uncovered inside Israel, the agency said.
Shin Bet said this month it had arrested three IS-inspired militants in the southern West Bank in what was the first known such cell to be uncovered in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Last year, Israeli officials said they knew some 30 Arab Israelis had made their way to Syria to fight for jihadist groups, but said only a few had joined the IS group.
Israel`s 1.3 million Arab citizens, who make up just over 20 percent of the population, are the descendents of 160,000 Palestinians who remained on their land when the state of Israel was established in 1948.