Hezbollah spy / Still seeking to avenge Mughniyeh's murder
While the Shin Bet nips most plots in the bud, this affair shows us how open Israeli officials are to attack.
The indictment filed against Tira resident Rawi Fuad Sultani Monday shows that Hezbollah is still looking for an opportunity to settle accounts: chief of staff for chief of staff.
A year and a half has passed since the Damascus killing of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah's terror operations chief, which the organization blames on Israel. It has yet to take its revenge.
The information that the 23-year-old Tira resident gave Hezbollah about Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi's daily routine could have given Hezbollah an operational opportunity.
It seems the plans never reached a practical level; the Shin Bet security service arrested a spy, not an assassin. But, as opposed to previous affairs, some of which led to huge headlines - such as the intent to attack Rabbi Ovadia Yosef or former president George W. Bush when his helicopter landed in Jerusalem - this was not just another case of "two Arabs sitting around and talking."
If the charges in the indictment turn out to be true, then this is a man who took two trips overseas to pass on concrete information that could have served as the basis for operational intelligence.
The way the information was obtained should not surprise anyone.
For more than a decade, Hezbollah has been putting great effort into recruiting Israeli Arab agents. One of the leaders of this effort is Qays Obeid, a former resident of Taibeh in the Triangle, who fled to Beirut. In 2000 Obeid enticed Col. (res.) Elhanan Tennenbaum into his web and kidnapped him.
Sultani allegedly made contact with a Hezbollah operative at a summer camp in Morocco, which he attended on the behalf of the Israeli Arab political party Balad.
This is the same movement whose leader, former MK Azmi Bishara, fled Israel after he was accused of providing intelligence to Hezbollah.
The Shin Bet's broad intelligence network, which includes Israeli Arabs, seems to enable it to nip most such plans in the bud. But the latest affair shows us how much senior Israeli officials are open to attack.
Only three weeks ago we learned that a guard in the chief of staff's office, Louis Maskuta, had been arrested for stealing Ashkenazi's credit card information and a pistol.
Maskuta also was in contact with criminals from the Triangle, although in this case, the parties had criminal, not nationalist, intent.
Previous security lapses, as well as Hezbollah's interest in Ashkenazi, lead to the conclusion that the chief of staff needs especially tight security.
Judging by Ashkenazi's recent public appearances, the army's security staff seems to be taking the matter very seriously.
The war of nerves between Israel and Hezbollah is far from over, even if we can assume that for now, the Shi'ite organization is not interested in another war in the north.
Hezbollah's efforts to avenge Mughniyeh's death continue, and are likely to find expression not only in an attack on Israeli officials, but on airplanes or cruises filled with Israeli tourists overseas.