Four Israeli school teachers have had their teaching licenses revoked after they and two other men were arrested for allegedly handing out pro-ISIS propaganda to students. The men, who are Bedouin Israeli citizens, are said to have been planning to travel to Syria to join ISIS.
According to The Times, the men, who are all members of the same family, are in their twenties and live in Bedouin towns near the southern Israeli city of Be’er Shiva. Israeli police say that the men met regularly at a mosque in the village of Hura for a year and a half to watch propaganda videos and speeches by jihadi leaders, and to discuss Islamic State ideology.
At one meeting in April 2014 they were joined by Othman Abdelkayan, an Israeli Arab doctor who was later killed in the fighting in Syria.
Israel’s defence minister Moshe Ya’alon declared Islamic State an illegal organization last September.
The Jerusulam Post has reported the identities of the men as: “Bashir Jabrin Salim abu Alkiyan, 26, an elementary school teacher in Hura; Akram Alab Ahmed abu Alkiyan, 30, an elementary school teacher in Rahat; Muhammad Alab Ahmed abu Alkiyan, 27, a high-school teacher in Hura; Khader Hassan abu Alkiyan, 27, from Hura; Sharif Shahada Rezek abu Alkiyan, 23, from Atir; and Hamza Abed Ali Alkiyan, 27, a teacher from Hura.”
They have been indicted in Be’er Shiva District Court on a number of charges, including distributing an illegal organization’s materials, support for a terrorist organization, conspiracy to commit a crime and illegally exiting the country.
Three of the men are understood to be planning to use a religious trip to Mecca as a foil for meeting up with extremists in Syria with a view to joining Islamic State.
“Over the last few months, Beduin teachers in Hura have been advancing the ideology of Islamic State among their pupils,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
“Teachers will not be terrorists in Israel. We will have zero tolerance for those who advance terror.” said Naftali Bennett, the minister for education, adding: “I instructed my office to quickly carry out the procedure to sack these teachers and revoke their licences.”
Shin Bet, Israel’s intelligence agency, has questioned the school’s head teacher and several members of staff on why they failed to report the men’s activities. But Israeli commentators have called for the Muslim community in Israel to do more to prevent their young people being radicalised, arguing that Shin Bet can’t be expected to hold back the tide of radicalism by itself.
At least 47 Arab Israelis have already traveled east to join ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria. A handful have returned and have been arrested.
Writing in the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli reporter Yossi Melman said: “At this point it is still a small number, perhaps 100, of Israeli Arabs who fallen captive to Islamic State’s ideology and cult of death. This is negligible in an Israeli Arab population that numbers some 1.5 million people.
“In order to prevent these isolated cases of bad apples from turning into a growing phenomenon, responsibility and a quick denunciation without stuttering or excuses is required from the pillars of the Israeli Arab community, as well as a serious public diplomacy and education effort.”
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