The Nazareth District Court sentenced an Israeli Arab to three years in prison on Wednesday, for joining Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.
Hamza Magamasa, 23, from the northern Israel town of Kfar Yafi'a, left for Syria via Turkey with two friends and stayed with the organization for 10 days before returning home in October.
He was arrested at Ben-Gurion airport by the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) and charged with joining a foreign terror organization and contact with a foreign agent.
Magamasa's punishment is the heaviest sentence an Israeli Arab has received so far for joining ISIS, albeit not the State Prosecutor's recommendation of between 6-12 years.
The Nazareth District Court also updated the official foreign national presence of Israeli Arabs who have left to join ISIS, at 45 – up from 30 in October 2014 – and noted that at least 25 have estimated to still be fighting in Syria.
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During his interrogation, Magamsaa revealed that two others, Muhammed Sabr Kaanaa, and Muhammad Marwan Kilani, had stayed to fight against the Syrian army.
The three had made their decision after watching YouTube clips from ISIS – the group's prime recruiting tool and a strategy unique to ISIS, according to a US State Department report released last month – and praising the terror group's brutal tactics.
A few months before leaving, Magamasa made contact with an ISIS agent named Karim Al-Nasri via the group's main Facebook page, claiming he was "Palestinian" and interested in joining the group. Al-Nasri directed him on how to be smuggled into Syria via Turkey and set the Eid al-Adha holiday as the ideal time.
The three were then recruited to a 45-day training course upon their arrival which included 15 days on religion and Sharia law and 30 days of physical training.
However, after ten days, Magamasa decided he had had enough, and sneaked out of the camp and over the border to return home to his family. He was questioned by Turkish authorities upon his arrival and eventually transferred to Israel.