Israeli Arab Charged With Giving Hezbollah Info on IDF Chief

Rawi Sultani allegedly provided info about Gabi Ashkenazi's gym, nearby roads and security arrangements.

A 23-year-old man from Tira was charged Monday with sending Hezbollah agents information about the routine of Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. Intelligence officials suspect the Lebanese organization was seeking to assassinate Ashkenazi as revenge for the Damascus killing of its second-in-command Imad Muginyeh, which it blames on Israel.

Rawi Sultani attended the same gym as Ashkenazi.

He allegedly gave the Hezbollah agent information about the gym's location, access roads and security arrangements, how many security guards Ashkenazi had, what weapons they carried, and where they were stationed inside the gym, as well as what Ashkenazi wore and which route he took to the gym.

The Petah Tikva District Court extended his remand through September 15. The state is seeking to have him held until the end of proceedings against him.

The indictment states that a Hezbollah agent established contact with Sultani in 2008, when he participated in a Balad party delegation to a Morocco summer camp, along with delegates from other Arab states.

He allegedly met a man named Salman Hareb there. Hareb introduced himself as a Hezbollah activist, and showed camp participants Hezbollah-made films from the Second Lebanon War.

At one point, Sultani allegedly told Hareb that he works out at the same gym as Ashkenazi. The two agreed to keep in touch.

About a month later, Sultani received an e-mail from Hareb, and the two began a correspondence on e-mail and Facebook, the indictment says.

Hareb invited him to meet abroad, and Sultani suggested they meet in Poland, where he was going for a family trip, the indictment says.

A day or two before Sultani left Israel, Hareb told him he could not get a visa to Poland, and was sending his brother Sami in his place.

Sultani allegedly met Sami Hareb in Poland on December 23, 2008. Sami Hareb presented himself as a Hezbollah activist, and asked Sultani to help the organization collect information on Israeli sites, military bases and public figures. Sultani allegedly agreed.

Sami Hareb then asked Sultani for details about the gym, Ashkenazi's routine and his security arrangements. Sultani allegedly gave him detailed answers, and set another meeting, at which point he was given information about a secure e-mail address and a CD bearing encryption software.

Hareb allegedly explained to Sultani how to use the software, and gave him money to buy more CDs to hide the one with the encryption software.

Hareb also allegedly asked Sultani if he knew of Palestinian students abroad who would be willing to help Hezbollah, and Sultani allegedly gave him contact information for several of his friends. Hareb then asked to Sultani to gather more information on the country club and Ashkenazi's routine, and Sultani allegedly agreed.

When Sultani returned to Israel, Salman Hareb contacted him via e-mail, but Sultani allegedly did not respond to all his requests. On June 28, Sami Hareb called Sultani, who agreed to follow up on the discussion in Poland.

The prosecution said Sultani conspired to give an enemy useful information, knowingly maintained contact with a foreign agent, and knowingly gave an enemy useful information.

In its request to extend Sultani's remand, the prosecution said he had confessed both to the police and to the Shin Bet. The state also claims it has statements from other participants in the Morocco summer camp regarding Salman Hareb's activity there, a note in Sultani's handwriting about the secure e-mail address, testimonies from Sultani's friend and brother stating he told them he had met with a Hezbollah agent in Poland, call records from Sultani's phone and the CD with the encryption software.

The IDF said Ashkenazi usually works out in a separate room in the gym and that before each visit security officers do a check of the room.