Israeli Arab Activist 'Spied on IDF Bases for Hezbollah'

In indictment against Ameer Makhoul, state prosecutors claim prominent political campaigner was recruited by Lebanese militants in Denmark.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

State prosecutors on Thursday presented a Haifa court with an indictment against two detained Israeli Arab activists accused of spying for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Ameer Makhoul Credit: Itzik Ben-Malki

The first suspect, Ameer Makhoul, has been charged with secretly meeting Hezbollah agents in Denmark in 2008. There, prosecutors allege, Makhoul agreed to spy on Israel for the Shi'a Muslim group, which gave him specific missions and equipped him with computer programs to send encrypted information over the internet.

One task was to gather information on bases of the Shin Bet security service in the north of Israel.

In other missions, Makhoul was allegedly asked to supply details of security surrounding Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, a Mossad base in central Israel, a defense factory owned by state arms manufacturer Rafael and a Haifa site hit by Hezbollah rockets during its month-long war with Israel in 2006.

Makhoul is also accused of carrying out reconnaissance on an IDF base.
Prosecutors say the suspected spy passed his Lebanese contacts a list of names of six Israeli citizens, marked as potential agents, as well as providing Hezbollah with analysis on trends in Israeli politics and society.
The IDF's information security unit claims Makhoul delivered high-value material to his Hezbollah handlers.

A senior Shin Bet official told Haaretz: "Part of the information that Makhoul transferred could be delivered by anyone with a pair of eyes and Google Earth [a computer program that provides satellite photographs]. But Makhoul, as an Israeli Arab, has freedom of movement and access across Israel."

Makhoul has denied all charges against him.

Speaking to reporters outside a courthouse in the northern city of Haifa, Makhoul described the accusations as a balloon that will burst very quickly.
"This legal proceeding is invalid and I reject all the allegations against me," he said.

Prosecutors also filed an indictment against another espionage suspect, Omar Sayid, later on Thursday. Said was arrested while trying to cross the border to Jordan on April 24; Makhoul on May 6.

State lawyers say both were recruited as Hezbollah spies by Hassan Geagea, a Lebanese businessman living in Jordan, whom they first contacted over funding for Israeli Arab charities.

Under interrogation, Makhoul admitted meeting a representative of Geagea in Denmark. Last week Makhoul's attorneys said they strongly suspected that his Shin Bet interrogators tortured him during a two-week period following his arrest in which they were denied access to him. Shin Bet denies the claims.

"The interrogation was carried out in full accordance with regulations and the law," a Shin Bet official said, quoting court proceedings in which a judge reported asking Makhoul about his treatment. Makhoul answered that he was homesick and his back hurt - but made no claims of abuse.
His lawyers - Hassan Jabareen, Orna Kohn and Hussein Abu Hussein - said they were considering legal measures, including a petition to the High Court of Justice, after their request to see Makhoul's prison medical records was denied.

Following the refusal, Physicians for Human Rights, a charity organization, applied for permission to visit Makhoul in jail.

Makhoul's family said in a statement: "The Shin Bet and the Israeli establishment should be indicted for using torture and banned interrogation methods to trample democratic freedoms and human rights."



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