Israel Charges East Jerusalem Resident With Spying for Hezbollah

Lifted gag order reveals Azam Mash'hara allegedly informed Lebanese militant organization on major sites in the capital, including the Knesset, government complex.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Israeli security forces arrested a resident of East Jerusalem over suspicions that he handed over intelligence concerning major sites in the capital to Hezbollah agents, a lifted gag order revealed on Sunday.

According to newly revealed information, Azam Mash'hara, who resides in the village of Jabel Mukaber, passed on material concerning the Knesset, the Hebrew University campuses, Jerusalem's government complex, as well as the capital's hospitals.

Security sources indicated that Mash'hara was arrested after being recruited by Hezbollah last June, adding that he admitted to passing over the information during his interrogation.

In addition, the Shin Bet added that Mash'hara admitted to being briefed by Hezbollah operatives during a recent visit to Lebanon, at which time he was instructed to return to Israel and remain in contact via the internet.

An indictment against the East Jerusalem resident was submitted to Jerusalem's District Court on Sunday, in which he is accused of contacting a foreign agent, handing over information to the enemy, and visiting an enemy state without leave.

State prosecutors have requested that Mash'hara be detained for the duration of legal proceedings against him.

Last month, a 26-year-old truck driver from Majdal Krum in the north was charged with spying for Hezbollah, making contact with a foreign agent, conspiring to aid the enemy and belonging to an illegal group.

Milad Khatib was arrested in September. A gag order on the investigation was removed last month at the request of the Haifa District Attorney’s Office. The charges were filed in Haifa District Court.

According to the indictment, Khatib was in contact with a man named Barhan, a Hezbollah agent who operated on the terror group’s behalf in various European locations. The two allegedly met several times between 2007-2009 in Barhan’s home in Denmark, with all of Khatib’s expenses, including food, hospitality and entertainment, covered by Barhan.

During these meetings, the two discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the resilience of the Israeli public during the Hezbollah missile attacks in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Khatib’s attorney, Hussein Abu Hussein, said that the information his client had allegedly passed on was not classified and does not constitute espionage.

“The accused is a trader who met someone in Denmark by chance, who started to ask him about all kinds of places that appear in the charge sheet, as if this is an indicator of espionage,” Abu Hussein said. “If they were classified, they wouldn’t be publicized either in the media or in the indictment.

“There isn’t any transfer here of information that people didn’t know,” he continued. “This is a very bland and strange indictment. It could be that making contact with the enemy is itself a violation, but they are trying to inflate the details.”

According to the remand request submitted to the court, Khatib admitted to both the Shin Bet security agency and to the police that he had met with Barhan abroad, and that he had agreed to become active in Hezbollah, primarily by collecting information.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is seen speaking on a giant screen from a secret location, as supporters wave Hezbollah flags, in the southern border town of Bint Jbeil, Lebanon, May 25, 2012. Credit: AP
Lebanon's Hezbollah supporters waving Palestinian and Hezbollah flags during a demonstration against Israel's military operation in Gaza, in front of the UN headquarters in Beirut, Nov. 17, 2012.Credit: Reuters
Milad Khatib at the Haifa District Court, October 2012.Credit: Abdullah Shama

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