MESS Report / Were Confessions of Alleged Hezbollah Spies Extracted Illegally?

The next stage in the case against the two Israeli Arabs is to determine whether Shin Bet extracted their testimonies by applying excessive physical, psychological pressure.

The next stage in the case against Amir Makhoul − who, along with Omar Said, is charged with spying for Hezbollah − is determining the extent to which their testimonies are actually valid. A significant portion of the indictment is based on testimony given by the two men during their questioning. The Shin Bet security service officials questioned on the matter Thursday repeatedly referred reporters to the testimonies. At this point, it remains unclear what other information incriminating the two suspects has been accumulated.

Alleged Hezbollah spy Amir Makhoul
Itzik Ben Malchi

Makhoul’s attorneys argue that his statements were extracted illegally, through pressure. The Shin Bet has denied this, pointing to a statement made by a judge in one of the arrest hearings, in which she said Makhoul had not complained about his treatment despite being asked about it on a number of occasions.

Another major issue is the damage the two have caused. In the case of Said, the focus is on reported contact with Hezbollah agents. Allegedly, Makhoul’s case is more serious as he had been asked to relay a great deal of information on sensitive matters. If the link between him and Hezbollah is shown to have been regular and secret, and that information was in fact relayed, then he is in trouble.

Beyond bad intentions, was any real damage caused? The Shin Bet is basing its position on an assessment by the unit that handles encryption. It argues that “high value information was relayed.” On the other hand, there has never been a case this unit didn’t consider serious.

It is interesting to learn from the indictment that Hezbollah seems to remain highly interested in Israeli society and its possible reaction to a future war. Such information was previously relayed to the group by former MK Azmi Bishara.

Hezbollah wants specifics on sensitive sites in Israel. The point is obvious: They want to be able to make more effective and lethal use of the more accurate M-600 rockets they have acquired.