Israel's Ben-Gurion University uncovers 'modesty patrol' Islamist cell

Be'er Sheva university's chief says cell's members threatened to expose female Bedouin students, who they thought weren't modest dressers, to their families and communities; university fails to clarify if students from the cell still enrolled at university

Ilana Curiel‎|
Israel's Ben-Gurion University said Saturday it has exposed an Islamist cell, whose members were conducting "modesty patrols" of female Muslim students on campus.
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  • Ben-Gurion University President Daniel Chamovitz said the cell consisted of three students who mainly targeted female Bedouin students living near Be'er Sheva, where the educational facility is located.
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    צעירות בדואיות מתועדות ללא ידיעתן בסרטוני טיקטוק המסכנים את חייהן
    צעירות בדואיות מתועדות ללא ידיעתן בסרטוני טיקטוק המסכנים את חייהן
    Bedouin women are filmed by members of the cell for TikTok videos
    Aaccording to Chamovitz, the cell threatened to expose the female Bedouin students, who they believed were dressed in an immodest way, to their families and communities - which are largely conservative.
    "The female students complained to us, although it's a very socially complex situation because they can't complain publicly," Chamovitz said.
    He refused to answer if the students who had set up the cell were still enrolled at the university, but said the matter was "taken care of" and handled in an extraordinary way.
    "We found ways to handle it. We warned them, however, we didn't file a complaint with the police, because the victims of the incident must be the ones filing it," he said, adding he doesn't know if a complaint was actually filed by any of the victims.
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    קמפוס אוניברסיטת בן גוריון
    קמפוס אוניברסיטת בן גוריון
    Ben-Gurion University
    (Photo: Dani Machlis)
    "When we uncover something like this, it's a win for us because we can change the reality for those students. Even though there are those who do not want it to change, just like in the ultra-Orthodox sector," he said.
    "There are things we deal with behind closed doors. All I can say [the cell] no longer exists and I'm very proud of our actions."
    Six months ago, a similar incident was reported when Bedouin women were secretly filmed on their way to school, shopping malls, and walking down the streets, and the videos were posted on social networking sites. Some of the young women reported it to the police and local authorities, and some of the videos were eventually removed.
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    זירת האירוע בבאר שבע
    זירת האירוע בבאר שבע
    Mohammad Abu al-Kian killed four people at a shopping center in Be'er Sheva
    (Photo: Ilana Curiel)
    Chamovitz also addressed the tensions in the Negev since the deadly terror attack in Be'er Sheva last week. Mohammad Abu al-Kian from the Bedouin town Hura killed four people at a local shopping center before being shot dead by civilians.
    "I had visited the first Bedouin School of Science in Hura, and the next day the attack occurred. We held a memorial service at the university organized together by Jewish and Arab students. I'm not saying everything's perfect. There is tension, but that is the tension we must deal with in our society."
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