IDF Tracker Charged With 'Aiding Hezbollah in War Against Israel'

Louay Balut charged with supplying military intelligence to Hezbollah in order to facilitate drug trafficking.

An indictment was submitted to the Haifa military court on Monday against an Israel Defense Forces tracker who was accused of divulging military intelligence to Hezbollah in order to facilitate the smuggling of illicit drugs from Lebanon into Israel.

The indictment included charges of treason, aiding an enemy during wartime, contact with a foreign agent, conspiracy to commit a crime and "assisting an enemy in a war against Israel."

The indictment reveals that between December 2007 and February 2008 Louai Balut made contact on several occasions with a Lebanese citizen named Elias Hazbani, who is a member of the Lebanon-based guerilla group Hezbollah.

The indictment adds that the defendant used cellular phones to contact two other Lebanese citizens, Abu Hassan and Abu Ali, who also belong to the militant group.

During that time, the indictment continues, the defendant gave Abu Hassan "secret code, a password, recognizable signals or numbers of IDF forces, IDF positions, locations of IDF equipment, military orders regarding operations and movements and other important details in reference to the military."

Balut was also charged with conspiring to commit a crime by contacting Lebanese citizens and an Israeli citizen, Nazareth resident Abed al-Baset Zuabi, in order to commit crimes relating to import, export and drug trafficking from Lebanon into Israel.

Israel fought a 34-day war with Hezbollah in 2006 and, though a UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon has since been expanded, tensions remain high.

Balut denied the charges against him. "I committed no treason. I am loyal to the state of Israel," he told Army Radio at Haifa Military Court.

He hinted to reporters that several people had lured him into committing the crimes, but didn't say whether those people were Israeli or Lebanese. "I have never imagined I would find myself in a situation such as this. I didn't smuggle drugs, I didn't betray my country, I only killed terrorists. I am hurt and pained," he said.

Balut's attorney, Tammy Ullman, said that in cases like these, the court usually opens the indictment with serious charges, and ultimately acquits "with a whimper" that doesn't even get a headline in the media. Ullman also said that the prosecution has refused grant her access to the evidence.