Israel indicts couple who traveled to Mosul to join IS

JERUSALEM (AP) " An Israeli court indicted an Arab Israeli couple on Thursday for joining the extremist Islamic State group with their three young children.

According to the charge sheet, Wissam Zbeidat, 41, and his wife Sabrine, 30, of the Arab town of Sakhnin traveled to Turkey while on a family vacation in Romania in 2015. From there, they slipped across the border into Syria.

The indictment detailed that IS militants collected the family's Israeli passports and brought the new recruits to the Iraqi city of Mosul, an IS stronghold. The indictment says Wissam Zbeidat underwent military and ideological training and was wounded while fighting in the ranks of IS against the Iraqi army.

A fifth of Israeli citizens are Arab. IS does not have widespread support in Israel, but the Shin Bet intelligence agency estimates that 50 Arab citizens of Israel have traveled to Syria or Iraq to join the group in recent years.

The Zbeidat family eventually tried to leave IS because of the dangers of life in Mosul and the lack of schools, according to the indictment. The Shin Bet said their relatives helped them pay smugglers to extricate themselves from the IS.

The couple attempted to sneak back into Turkey 10 times, sometimes drugging their youngest daughter to prevent the child from crying and drawing the attention of authorities. When they finally succeeded, Turkish police arrested them.

Turkish authorities sent the family back to Israel in September, where they were arrested, according to the indictment. They face charges of contact with a foreign agent, membership in an outlawed organization, membership in a terrorist group, aiding an illegal group and undergoing unlawful military training.

Also Thursday, the Shin Bet security said it arrested a Gaza man last month who was planning a " large scale terrorist attack" at an events hall in southern Israel and also to "abduct and murder" an Israeli soldier. It said the man led a cell of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group. Three members of the cell, two of whom were in Israel illegally, including one who worked at the events hall, were arrested as well.

It said the case "reiterates the manner in which terrorists will exploit humanitarian and economic permits to enter Israel, as well as the risk posed by Palestinians present in Israel illegally."

Israel, along with Egypt, imposed a blockade on Gaza after the Islamic Militant group Hamas took power there in 2007. Some Palestinians in Gaza are allowed entry to Israel for humanitarian reasons.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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