A number of Israeli Arabs have been arrested over the past month after the Shin Bet security service suspected them of contact with Hezbollah representatives, in an alleged effort by the Lebanese group to commit terror acts in Israel.
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News of the arrests is being reported following the lifting of a gag order. The detentions followed a joint operation by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police, the former said, which targeted a number of suspects who were known drug dealers and allegedly had direct contact with drug dealers in southern Lebanon. The Lebanese contacts were in turn known to have ties to Hezbollah.
Four Israeli-Arab suspects were named as A’a-Halim Abbas and his brother, Iz-al-al-Din Abbas, both of Nahf; and Ahmed Mazarib and Riad Mazarib of Beit Zarzir. Both towns are in Israel’s north.
The Shin Bet said that, under questioning, the four admitted being in contact with George Nimr, a Christian resident of the Lebanese town of Marjayoun, who is a reputed drug dealer and Hezbollah activist. The Shin Bet said it emerged that Nimr intended to smuggle arms and drugs into Israel, and that areas near the Lebanese border were scouted out as part of the plan. The operation was part of a larger scheme involving the same drug dealers smuggling weapons over the border into Israel from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, the security service added.
Some of the Israeli suspects had prior contact with Nimr, the Shin Bet said, and arms were seized from the home of one of them.
In the course of the investigation, the Israel Police arrested and questioned another 12 Israeli drug dealers, the security agency reported. The probe yielded intelligence information that broadened the picture with regard to the dealers’ network of contacts with Hezbollah, as part of the Shi’ite militia group’s efforts to carry out terrorist acts in Israel, according to the Shin Bet.
Against the backdrop of the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and the public backing that Hamas received from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, there is a possibility that the arrests disrupted plans by Hezbollah to carry out operations against Israel, the Shin Bet added.