Court: Israeli Arabs Arrested Over Alleged Spying to Remain Jailed

Israeli academics and international human rights activists protest outside Petah Tikva court in support of Omar Sayid and Ameer Makhoul.

The Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court on Wednesday ruled that two Israeli Arab men arrested last week over allegations of spying and ties to Hezbollah will remain jailed until early next week.

Activists protesting arrest of Israeli Arabs
Nir Keidar

Omar Sayid's remand was extended until Sunday and Ameer Makhoul's remand was extended until Monday, the men's legal representatives told Haaretz.

The lawyers, Hussein Abu Hussein and Orna Cohen, appealed on Wednesday the court's decision the previous day to extend the prohibition on Makhoul from meeting with legal representation for an additional three days.

The Petah Tikva court rejected the appeal, and ruled that Makhoul will not be able to see a lawyer until next Friday at the earliest.

Dozens of activists gathered earlier Wednesday outside the Petah Tikva court to protest the arrest of the two Israeli Arabs over allegations of spying and ties to Hezbollah.

The military censor on Monday lifted a gag order on news that Sayid, a member of the Balad movement, and Makhoul, director general of the charity Ittijah (Union of Arab Community-Based Associations) had been detained by the Shin Bet security service and police anti-terror squads.

Among the protesters were Israeli academics, human rights activists and other representatives from international organizations.

Yehuda Shenhav, a Tel Aviv University professor who was one of the organizers of the demonstration, said that many Jews were among the protesters.

"It was important that Jews came to protest and to take a clear position," he said. "We are worried about this phenomenon we are seeing, the arrest of one political activist after another on espionage charges."

Makhoul was arrested in the early hours of last Thursday morning, while Sayid was detained on April 24.

Reports of the arrests circulated widely on unofficial websites and blogs but government censors had banned the Israeli press from reporting them until the gag order was lifted late Sunday night.