An Arab Israeli who joined the Islamic State has been killed in the fighting in Iraq, his family learned over the weekend.
Twenty-three-year-old Hamed Mohammed Habashi, from the Galilee village of Iksal, traveled to Turkey with four friends early this year, his family said. The four are believed to have crossed into Syria to join the Islamic State.
According to Habashi’s family, he was probably killed near Ramadi in western Iraq.
His brother, Hussein Habashi, told Haaretz that Hamed left Israel in January without saying where he was headed. Hamed had contacted his family a few times, Hussein added. “He didn’t say much, he just let us know that he was alright. We didn’t know where he was exactly, whether in Syria or in Iraq.”
Rumors of Hamed’s death started floating in the last week or two, Hussein noted, but it was only over the weekend that they received a phone from a man who identified himself as a friend of Hamed’s, who said that he was killed.
There were rumors of his death have been the last week or two, but only the last day we got a phone from a man who identified himself as a friend of his and said he was killed in battle there. “
The family said Hamed was not affiliated with any political or religious organization, although he was religiously observant. They said Hamed liked sports, especially boxing.
Dozens of young Arab Israelis have joined opposition forces fighting the Syrian regime, mainly the Nusra Front and the Islamic State. Some have been reported dead in recent months, but since volunteers who are killed are buried on the spot, their families could not confirm the reports.
Last month, a 23-year-old man from Umm al-Fahm was convicted in a Haifa court of illegally entering Syria and fighting with the Islamic State, which the judge deemed a danger to Israel’s security.
According to the indictment filed in May, Ahmad Shurbaj took part in several Islamic State battles against the Assad regime. In January, he entered Syria via Turkey and on April 20 returned via Ben-Gurion International Airport, where he was arrested.