Security officials confirmed on Sunday that an Israeli army veteran from the elite Givati unit has defected from Israel to join the Islamic State in Syria.
The soldier, who is an Arab Muslim, was reported by the Israeli news source Walla as hailing from a village in northern Israel. The Times of Israel reported that the soldier, 25, joined the IDF after an argument with his father, who objected to his son serving, and that he has had very little contact with his family since.
The soldier, now an ISIS recruit, had served in the elite Givati infantry brigade of the IDF, a combat unit, whose operations are generally based in the Gaza area. He would have received months of intense military training, including weapons instruction, and first-hand knowledge of IDF tactics over his three years of service.
He was discharged from the army only last year, in January 2014. Though the timeline of his leaving Israel and joining ISIS is unknown, the Times of Israel reported that he first traveled from Israel to Turkey, and then crossed the border into Syria.
He would not be the first Muslim Arab citizen of Israel to join ISIS, though he would almost certainly be the first veteran of the IDF within its ranks. According to Arab intelligence sources, between 100 and 150 Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have traveled illegally to ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq in attempts to join the radicalist Islamic State or to get training to carry out attacks at home.
In November, several members of a terror cell in the Israeli-Arab town of Jaljulia were apprehended after an Israeli investigation found that the group was planning to join ISIS, and in October, an Israeli-Arab crossed from the Golan Heights into Syria on a hang glider with the intention of joining a terror group in the region.
It became clear that least some Israeli citizens had successfully managed to join ISIS in October, when the group released two videos featuring masked militants identifying as members of ISIS and threatening to attack Israel in fluent, Arabic-accented Hebrew.