Police Question Israeli Arab Lawmaker Suspected of Smuggling Phones to Palestinian Prisoners

After searching several prisoners who met with MK Basel Ghattas on Sunday, prison staff found 12 mobile phones; Ghattas: 'I have nothing to hide.'

MK Basel Ghattas in the Knesset plenum in 2013.
MK Basel Ghattas in the Knesset plenum in 2013. Michal Petael

The police on Tuesday questioned Joint List MK Basel Ghattas over allegations that he smuggled mobile phones to Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

The Israeli Arab lawmaker arrived Tuesday morning to the Lahav 443 national investigations unit. Balad partymates MK Jamal Zahalka and MK Haneen Zoabi also came to the station.

The Israel Prison Services said they received information that the lawmaker was planning to smuggle mobile phones into the Keziot Prison in the Negev for security prisoners. After he visited the prison, prison personnel searched several prisoners who have been in touch with Ghattas and found 12 mobile phones. As he was leaving the prison, police were called in, but Ghattas ignored police instructions and left the area.

Ghattas' office said they were surprised by reports that the investigation concerned mobile phones. Ghattas had not visited security prisoners for the past two months until Sunday, when he conducted his first such visit in a long time at the Keziot Prison, his office said. However, the issue of summoning Ghattas for questioning arose a few days ago and is not connected to Sunday's visit, they said.

Ghattas said he would appear for the investigation. He stated that "It is clear the police are determined to continue the political persecution of the members and leaders of Balad and this entire conduct testifies to the policy of political revenge that does not frighten us and will not frighten us in the future either."  

"I have nothing to hide, I will continue to represent the Arab public through legitimate political activity," added Ghattas.