Ameer Makhoul family
Relatives of Ameer Makhoul in court, May 12, 2010. Photo by Nir Keidar
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The Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court yesterday remanded Ameer Makhoul and Dr. Omar Sayid for five and four days respectively, on suspicion of spying for Hezbollah. The court also extended the ban on Makhoul's meeting with his attorney at least until tomorrow.

An appeal of the ban by Makhoul's attorneys to the District Court was rejected. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said the investigation was likely to go on for some time.

The families of Makhoul and Sayid called for their release yesterday in a protest outside the Petah Tikva courthouse, together with dozens of Jewish and Arab activists. Prof. Yehouda Shenhav, an organizer of the protest, said "we worry when political activists are arrested one after the other and accused of espionage."

A rally is planned for this evening in Kafr Kana, Sayid's home town, near Nazareth.

Yesterday's remand hearings were held behind closed doors. Sayid's attorneys, Hussein Abu Hussein, Hassan Jabareen and Orna Cohen, of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel were allowed to be present at the hearing the same time as their client, but Makhoul's attorneys were not. Abu Hussein and Jabareen, who told Haaretz after the hearing about the extension of Sayid's and Makhoul's remand, also said that despite the partial lifting of the gag order, the suspicions against their clients could not be detailed, nor the identity revealed of the Hezbollah agent with whom they are suspected of meeting.

Speaking during a tour of Arab villages in the north, Aharonovitch said the case was "not going to be over in a matter of days." He also said he did not think the Arab sector was becoming more extreme, but accused the Islamic Movement and the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee of inciting the Arab public against Israel.