ISIS terrorist (file)
ISIS terrorist (file) Reuters

The criminal division of the State Attorney's Office has petitioned the Supreme Court over the leniency in the punishment of an Israeli citizen, who joined Islamic State (ISIS) and fought for the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq before returning to Israel.

The citizen was handed a mere three-and-a-half years in jail for taking an active role in the brutal jihadist group.

In the petition it was noted that the state reasons the time is ripe to take such crimes more seriously, and therefore asks to make the punishment significantly more stringent.

Maharan Khaldi, 20, who is the ISIS terrorist in question in the case, had a history of viewing ISIS video clips and praising the group for its activities, including its brutal beheadings.

After his attempts to contact members of the jihadist group via Facebook failed, he flew to Antalya in Turkey and from there got in touch with a Syrian ISIS member who helped him to infiltrate into Syria, where he joined the group.

At the Syrian ISIS headquarters, he met an additional three Arab citizens of Israel who were fighting for the group. Khaladi fought in Syria and Iraq for several weeks until being wounded, at which point he returned to Turkey and from there back to Israel.

He was put on trial under the harshest yet indictment served against an Israeli who joined ISIS.

The Nazareth District Court convicted him following his confession, and sentenced him to 42 months of active jail time in addition to a conditional sentence and a fine, while giving him consideration for his confession, personal circumstances and wounds, his "regret" and the supposed need to gradually increase the harshness of punishment for such crimes.

Numerous dangers

In the petition, the state argued that the sentence was exaggeratedly lenient and did not match the severity of Khaldi's crimes, the planning that preceded them, the extreme dangers inherent in them, and the great need for deterrence.

An expert opinion submitted to the district court delineated cases of Arab Israelis leaving to become jihadists abroad, and noted the high potential danger of such cases.

For one, such jihadists can provide global terrorist organizations with intimate knowledge regarding Israel, they can also import radical Salafist ideologies into Israel together with military experience and capabilities, they can establish contact points inside Israel with the terrorist organizations they fought for abroad, and can encourage attacks against Israel.

"There can be no argument today regarding the danger of the ISIS organization, which is sending its lethal branches to different countries around the world," the petition stated.

It likewise warned about "the potential damage of Israeli citizens joining its was detailed in the indictment, (Khaldi) decided to join the ranks of the organization after - and due to - his impressions of the murderous activities of the organization."

"A deterrent punishment is required by the circumstances of the case, and that is in light of the phenomenon described in the opinion, and so as to prevent Israeli citizens going out to jihadist battlefronts abroad as much as possible."

Just this Tuesday it was cleared for publication that a five-man ISIS terror cell in Israel planned attacks, showing the inherent threat in not taking a harsher tact against the group.

A recent poll last month found that no fewer than 18.2% of Arab Muslim citizens of Israel said they do not consider ISIS to be a radical terrorist organization, and that they are not ashamed of the brutal jihadist group. That number rose to 28.1% among supporters of the outlawed Islamic Movement in Israel group specifically.