Golan Man Suspected of Spying, Contacting Foreign Agents

Sunday's unrest broke out after police searched his home.

Security forces arrested a man from a Druze village in the Golan Heights on suspicion of having committed crimes against state security including contacting foreign agents. The incident Sunday turned violent as thousands of locals tried to prevent the police from locating him in the village.

Fada Sha’ar
Reproduction: Yaron Kaminsky

The man, 27-year-old Fada Sha'ar of Majdal Shams, was brought before the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court yesterday and was remanded into custody for eight days.

A gag order is in place on the details of the case and the alleged violation. Defense attorney Nabia Hanjar told Haaretz yesterday that Sha'ar is a musician known for his low-key personality, and that he is far from being a criminal. The lawyer said he could not comment on the specific accusations because a warrant was preventing him from meeting his client.

The defense attorney said he intends to appeal against the ban on his meeting with his client.

The arrest of Sha'ar had been at the center of confrontations Sunday night in Majdal Shams, when security forces came to his family's home looking for him.

Sha'ar was not in the village, and his mother Mona was there with her 15-year-old son. The woman does not speak Hebrew and had not been aware that her son was arrested.

She told Haaretz that Sha'ar is her eldest son and that he had spoken to her several hours before she lost contact with him. She said she did not sense there was anything wrong or that he was about to be arrested.

"I don't know what this is about and why," she said. "I know my son, he is a musician and an artist who is trying to progress in his field and has nothing to do with violations of any sort. I am calm and believe that in the end nothing will happen with this."

She said the police entered the house dressed in civilian clothes. "I did not know they were police, I thought they were repossession people or income tax agents," she said. "I did not know what they were looking for, and I asked them to wait until my husband had returned, or one of the family men, because I was alone in the house with a small boy. But they refused."

Apparently, police had intended to search for Sha'ar, not necessarily arrest him, but he was detained after the clashes that ensued.

Thousands of Majdal Shams residents tried to block police from entering Sha'ar's home during the raid on Sunday, leaving a number of officers trapped by the large crowd for over two hours.

Residents said a number of their neighbors were wounded in the incident, but police deny that there were any casualties. The crowd agreed to back off after lengthy negotiations between the community's elders and police.

According to eyewitnesses, the 20-strong police force tried to enter a house in the village at around 6 P.M. using clubs and tear gas. Both family members and police officers were injured in the incident, and although the police called for reinforcements, the house was quickly surrounded by the angry crowd.