Muslim woman (illustrative)
Muslim woman (illustrative) iStock

Ben Gurion University President Professor Daniel Chaimovitz​​ on Saturday revealed that an Islamist "modesty" cell had been operating on campus, including by using threats, to ensure that female Arab students were dressed appropriately.

Three students were members of the cell, he said.

"When we discovered what was happening, we were shocked, Arabs and Jews alike," Prof. Chaimovitz told a journalist during a Shabbatarbut (political and cultural forums that take place on the Sabbath) event in Be'er Sheva.

"There was a small cell of Islamists who took photos of female Bedouin students - and sent photos back to their clans if they were not dressed modestly enough."

According to Prof. Chaimovitz, the cell was discovered thanks to complaints by the female students.

"This is a very complex situation from a societal perspective, because they cannot complain publicly," he explained. "We live in something very complex, but we dealt with it. We did not deal with it in the same fashion we deal with other things."

However, Prof. Chaimovitz would not answer whether the students who were in the cell still study at the university.

"There are things which we keep within the house," he said. "But I can tell you that the behavior no longer exists. I am very proud of this."

National Union of Israeli Students Chairman Elchanan Felhaimer said that on Sunday, he will examine the incident together with the relevant sources in the university.

"I condemn this incident, and see dramatic importance in the freedom of occupation, speech, and clothing in the public arena on campuses," he said.