ON THURSDAY night, November 30, 2017, IDF Sgt. Ron Yitzhak Kukia, 19, from Tel Aviv was stabbed to death at a bus stop in the small town of Arad in the southeastern part of the Negev desert, not far from his military base.
The assailants stole the soldier’s gun and fled the scene by car. In a short period of time the Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic security service, solved the murder case. It arrested two young Israeli-Arab citizens, members of a Beduin tribe in the Negev.
Khaled Abu Jaudah, 22, stabbed the soldier while his half-brother, Zahi Abu Jaudah, also 22, acted as Khaled’s confidant and assisted him after the attack, according to the Shin Bet. The former is charged with murder and the latter with being an accomplice to murder.
The Shin Bet said that during Khaled’s interrogation, he “admitted to murdering the soldier and stealing [Kukia’s] gun.” The stolen weapon was retrieved by the security service.
According to the Shin Bet, Khaled Abu Jaudah committed the attack “out of a desire to do something on behalf of the Palestinians, and as revenge for IDF activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
The Shin Bet added that Abu Jaudah had been influenced by images and incitement of Islamic State
(ISIS) propaganda, developed “extremist beliefs,” and identified with various terrorist groups. His original plan was to abduct a soldier, and later to use him as a bargaining chip to release Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails.
But he realized that such an ambitious plot was too complicated and risky, and abandoned it for a simpler one. Instead, he plotted to kill a soldier and steal his gun in order to use it in future attacks.
Khaled bought a getaway car and started hiding money to support himself while he was on the lam.
Neither of the two men had a history of terrorist activities nor affiliation with a known terror group. They are what the Shin Bet calls “lone wolves,” who have characterized the recent wave of Palestinian terrorism of the last two years.
But what makes this case different is the fact that both brothers are children of a mixed marriage between an Israeli Arab man and a Palestinian woman.
The Hebrew acronym (ahmash) used by the Shin Bet to describe the phenomenon sounds mysterious but its translation is clearer – “family reunion, second generation.”
It refers to marriages between Israeli Arabs and Palestinians (mostly women) from Gaza and the West Bank and their children.
Shin Bet data show an increase in the involvement of some of these second-generation children of mixed-marriage families in acts of terror.
This trend is reminiscent of what is happening in Europe and to a lesser degree in the US, in which second or even third generations of Muslim immigrants from Asia, the Middle East or Africa have been involved in terrorism or joined ISIS to fight in the killing fields of Syria and Iraq.
In 2018, the growing fear in the West is that with the collapse of the “Muslim Caliphate” concept of ISIS to control territory and create a state or even an empire, thousands of young Western Muslims – who have undergone religious radicalization and gained military experience – are returning to their homelands to continue their fight.
In other words, they will now funnel their jihadi passion into being engaged in terror in their own countries.
One of the methods to counter this challenge is to find a balance in monitoring social media without an infringement of human rights and invasion of privacy. No wonder that more and more Western security services are turning for advice to the Shin Bet, which has had relative success in mastering this method in its fight against Palestinian terrorism.
The phenomenon of terror acts planned or carried out by children of first or second generation mixed marriages was well-known in Israel even before al-Qaida began its terror campaign in the West, which reached its peak in the 9/11 attacks in the US.
According to data researched by the Israeli security bodies, the rate of second generation sons of mixed marriage families involved in acts of terror is three times higher than their share in the Israeli-Arab population.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, there are in Israel nearly 1.9 million Arab citizens, of whom more than 1.5 million are Sunni Muslims. More than 6% of Israeli Arabs (100,000) are products of Israeli- Palestinian mixed marriages. The figures are even higher in the Negev, where families of mixed marriages comprise 12% (roughly 40,000). But when it comes to acts of terror, 15% of all Israeli Arabs involved come from mixed marriages.
This figure could have been higher, if the Israeli authorities, 15 years ago, had not changed their policy and toughened the laws of naturalization to make it even more difficult for Israeli Arabs to marry and naturalize Palestinian women.
The changes were criticized by human rights groups, which accused the government of racism, especially against the background that Israel’s Law of Return allows any Jew who lives abroad to be an Israeli citizen upon immigrating to the state.
“Communities of ‘family reunions and second generation,’” I was told by a senior security official, “are relatively, and without generalizing, a hotbed from which Palestinian terror groups, such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad, can cultivate and recruit terrorists.
This is because of their familial, ideological and emotional ties to Gaza and the West Bank.”
To analyze the problem further, I talked to Adi Carmi, who was a senior Shin Bet official in the southern district directorate, which is in charge of counter-terrorism in the Negev, Gaza and Sinai.
“It’s almost natural and reasonable that terrorists have emerged among mixed marriages and sons of the second generation,” he says. “They have families on the other side of the border, be it Gaza, Sinai or the West Bank. They participate in family festivities, weddings and funerals. Unfortunately, because most of the doors of Israeli universities and colleges are closed to them, they tend to seek higher education in West Bank schools, where they are exposed sometimes to radical and militant Muslim teachers and preachers. All this make them a relatively easy catch for terror groups.”
How can you reduce this danger? “Israeli Arab politicians, and community and religious leaders have to condemn the trend and battle against it with all the measures available to them,” he says.
Nevertheless, it is wrong to blame only the leaders of Israeli Arabs and to rid the government of its responsibility. For nearly seven decades, almost since Israel’s independence, consecutive Israeli governments have ignored and discriminated against Israeli Arabs, in general, and the Beduin, in particular. Less government money, much less, has been invested in their education, health, housing employment and infrastructure than in Jewish communities. The poverty and mortality rates are much higher in the Arab population than the Jewish one.
Almost within every socioeconomic parameter, Israeli Arabs are worse off than Jews.
In recent years, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to reverse the trend by allocating more money than ever to improve the living conditions of Israeli Arabs, and especially the Negev Beduin.
Since 2012, Netanyahu’s government spent or allocated $1.2 billion for this purpose.
But with strings attached. The government wants to relocate the Negev nomads to urban communities and thus change their traditional way of life for good. Many of them oppose this policy.
A real change will occur only if the government sincerely treats its Arab citizens as equals without any patronizing attitude.
When this happens, the motivation for terrorism among them will be lowered.
Indeed, there is room for Shin Bet concern, but with all the socioeconomic deprivation and negligence throughout the history of the state, it’s to the credit of Israeli Arabs that the actual number of them involved in acts of terror is still very low.