The Nazareth District Court has sentenced an Israeli Arab citizen to seven years in prison and ordered him to pay a NIS 25,000 fine for
assisting and conspiring with the enemy, a gag order lifted on Sunday
revealed.

Assad Ursan, 58, a resident of the Galilee village of Iksal, was a senior ranking member of the Palestinian Fatah movement in Algeria, during which he was in charge of meeting with Israeli Arabs in Europe in order to enlist them to carry out several terrorist attacks in Israel.

Judges Yitzhak Cohen and Yonatan Avraham sided with the 7-year prison term, while Judge Avraham Avraham proposed a sentence of only three years.

Ursan left his hometown when he turned 18 and moved to Lebanon, "finding himself" as he explained, in Algeria where he soon after joined the local Fatah branch.

Over the years he climbed his way up the organization's hierarchy and became a top ranking official in charge of finding, enlisting and training terrorists.

None of the attacks he was involved in ended with Israeli casualties.
Ursan decided to return to Israel in 2008 and was detained for questioning upon his arrival in the country. Shortly after police investigation he was charged with the alleged crimes.

Justice Cohen said during the court hearing that he was an Israeli citizen and he was charged with extremely severe crimes.
"This is not a case of planning, but a case in which he executed his plans, enlisted terrorists to the Fatah, including Israeli Arabs with whom he met in Europe, trained them in preparing explosives and assigned them to terror missions such as planting explosives in crowded areas in Haifa and its suburbs in 1989 and 1990," Cohen said in the ruling.

Ursan told the court that he had attempted to provide the Shin Bet with information pertaining to missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, and stated that he had also helped save the lives of two IDF soldiers who were captured during the Lebanon war.

He also mentioned that he supported the peace process the minute it begun.

Judge Avraham, who disagreed with Judge Cohen over the sentence, stated the fact that "the times have changed, and the Fatah, which fought against Israel in the past, had now become an ally and a partner in the peace process, should effect the severity of the punishment handed on to the defendant."

The Fatah movement is allied with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but its armed wing was responsible for some of the most severe attacks during the Intifada.

"It should be noted that the defendant was a supporter of the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority before he returned to Israel," Avraham added.