Nusra Front jihadi (illustration)
Nusra Front jihadi (illustration)Reuters

An Arab citizen of Israel was convicted on Wednesday for illegally leaving the state and joining Nusra Front, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

The jihadist, a resident of Kafr Yasif located east of Akko (Acre) in the north, sneaked past Israel's borders and infiltrated into Syria.

There he trained with the Nusra Front terrorist organization, which has been a branch of Al Qaeda for the past half year.

Judge Avraham Elyakim of the Haifa District Court ruled that the man indeed knowingly chose to join the terrorist organization in order to harm Israel.

It remains as yet unclear what sentenced will be ruled against the terrorist, who poses a serious threat in bringing back expertise and jihadist ideology into Israel.

The case again raises the question of the security threat posed by Israel's Arab population, which has been highlighted in recent days, most notably by the lethal shooting attack in Tel Aviv several weeks ago conducted by Israeli Arab Nashat Melhem.

Former Israeli Security Agency (ISA) head MK Ya'akov Peri (Yesh Atid) responded to the attack by calling not to "generalize" Arabs as terrorists, even though residents of Milhem's hometown of Arara in the north where he was found revealed that "many people knew" he was hiding out there, apparently aided by his family, and chose not to inform the police. 

Jewish Home chairperson Naftali Bennett likewise said after the attack that he does not blame Arab terror on the Arab public but rather on the government, emphasizing "I turn the accusing finger on us."

Peri and Bennett's statements would seem to be proven false by a poll last November. The poll found 57% of Israeli Arabs feel the radical Islamic Movement in Israel that is funded by Hamas represents them faithfully, and 18.2% of Arab Muslim citizens of Israel said they are not ashamed of Islamic State (ISIS), and do not view it as a terrorist organization.