The Interior Ministry has begun the process of revoking the citizenship of 19 Israelis who went to fight for Islamic State.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), according to Channel 2, provided the Interior Ministry a list of 20 Israelis who had joined the jihadist group, after a law proposed by Interior Minister Arye Deri went into effect this week allowing him to strip Israelis of their citizenship if they are members of foreign terrorist organizations.
One man on the list is said to have died in fighting for the group as the list was compiled.
The 20, who are mostly Israeli Arabs, also include two who were born Jewish and converted to Islam. The two, a 28-year-old woman from Ashdod and a 32-year-old man from Lod, were born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to Israel at a young age. They are said to have converted to Islam as adults and traveled to Syria to join the jihadist group.
The others on the list included an Israeli Arab who served as a combat soldier in the IDF and residents of the towns of Fureidis, Kafr Kassem, Jaljulya and Bueina, and of east Jerusalem, among others.
Then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon declared ISIS an illegal organization in 2014, and Israel has so far largely avoided attacks by the terrorist group, though several Arab Israelis have been arrested on suspicion of links with ISIS and plans to carry out attacks inspired by the Sunni extremist organization.
In October 2015, authorities broke up the first known case of an ISIS plot in Israel and indicted seven Israeli Arabs on charges of belonging to an ISIS cell planning to attack military targets.
The first deadly attack believed to have been inspired by the jihadist group was in January 2016, when an Israeli Arab went on a shooting spree in Tel Aviv killing three people; six months later two Palestinians shot dead four Israelis at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market.
In February, Anes Haj Yahia, 35, a resident of Taibe, east of Kfar Saba, was arrested by the Shin Bet after being in contact with terrorists online, on suspicion of planning attacks in Israel such as on a bus in Tel Aviv or against soldiers.
According to the Shin Bet, some 60 Israelis have traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight with rebel groups including Islamic State. Several are reported to have been killed and fewer than 10 are estimated to have returned to Israel, either by their own accord or after being caught by Turkish authorities while trying to cross the border and deported back to Israel.
In March 2015, the jihadist group posted a video online that showed a young boy shooting an Israeli Arab identified as Muhammad Musallam from Jerusalem.
ISIS accused Musallam of having joined the group to spy for the Mossad. In the video, Musallam is seen saying that he had been encouraged by his father and elder brother to spy on the group and report on weapons caches, bases and Palestinian recruits.
His family said that he had gone to Turkey for a tourist trip and went missing, but according to a report by Reuters at the time, an Israeli security official said that he went to fight for the terrorists in October 2014.
Dozens of Israeli Arabs have also been arrested by the Shin Bet and Israel Police for seeking to join the jihadist group in Syria and Iraq over the past few years.