Mueid Juma’a, 28, has reportedly become the first Israeli killed in Syria since the start of the civil war. About three weeks ago Juma’a, originally from the predominantly Arab area of Wadi Ara, traveled with a couple of friends to Syria, where he is believed to have fought among the rebel forces.
“On Tuesday the family received a picture of a bullet ridden body which they identified as their son,” Ynet News reported. It is not clear what opposition group Juma’a, who was said to be “religious,” was fighting with or where and when he was killed.
According to Ynet, at least 10 Israeli Arabs are believed to have joined the rebels in their fight against the Assad regime. Some of those who have fought in Syria and returned to Israel have been arrested by Israeli authorities.
For example, in early August, Israeli authorities filed an indictment against an Israeli Arab from the village of Taybe who had allegedly traveled to Syria to fight with jihadist groups, specifically the Al Nusrah Front (Jabhat al Nusra).
Similarly, on July 8, Hikmat Massarwa, an Israeli Arab also from Taybe, was sentenced to 30 months in jail. He had gone to Syria and trained with members of the Syrian opposition. While in Syria, Massarwa had been asked to carry out a suicide attack in Israel, but he declined.
The Shin Bet has warned on a number of occasions since the start of fighting in Syria that authorities “fear they [Israeli Arabs] will be exploited by terrorists [in Syria], both as a source of information about targets in Israel, as well as for carrying out military operations against Israel.”
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