Israeli-Arab sentenced to 19 months in prison for fighting in Syria

Jaljuliya resident convicted of illegally leaving Israel to participate in military training, fight with Syrian rebels against Assad.

Quneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Quneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An Israeli-Arab on Thursday was sentenced to 19 months in prison by the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court for fighting with the Syrian rebels against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Hoosam Hagla, a Jaljuliya resident, was convicted of illegally leaving the country (to go to Syria) and illegally participating in military training during his time in Syria.
Hagla and a friend, Dudu Abdallah, left for Syria via Turkey on April 19, 2013. About a month later, the two found passage over to Syria where they eventually joined the Ktiva Al-amjiad Syrian rebel group, posing as West Bank Palestinians. While with the group, Hagla learned a variety of military skills, including shooting, performed guard duty and manned roadblocks. Hagla also associated himself with two other Syrian rebel groups over around a three month period.
When he decided to return to Israel, his commander told him he needed to acquire a gun to perform terror attacks on Jews in the West Bank.
Hagla said he did not have resources to get a gun, but his commander instructed him on carrying out attacks without a gun.
Next, Hagla told his commander he would do so, but never did and in immediately confessing all charges upon his arrest in Israel, suggested he did not intend to, but was just trying to end the conversation.
The 19-month sentence was on the more lenient end of the punishment range of 15-30 months for the crimes he was charged with, due to his young age, clean prior record and that he seemed to have no malicious intent to Israel, merely wanting to help the Syrian nation defend itself against the Assad regime's onslaught.
In that regard, Hagla was also never charged with similar, but more serious crimes which could have covered years more in prison.
Still, the court would not be overly lenient, noting it was crucial to deter others from taking similar action which could lead to Israeli citizens being transformed into anti-Israel terrorists or intelligence gatherers for foreign terrorists.
This was particularly true since when Hagla was arrested, Hichmat Masarwa, an Israeli-Arab who took similar criminal actions at an earlier date, had already been arrested and Hagla knew of his arrest.