Two Arab "Israelis" Charged with Spying on Israel for Hizbullah

(JPOST) Israeli-Arab political activist Amir Makhoul was charged with espionage, assisting an enemy at a time of war and maintaining contact with an enemy agent.

The other suspect in the case, Omar Abdo, was charged with maintaining contact with an enemy agent and transferring information that could be used by the enemy.

Makhoul was recruited as a spy for Hizbullah and transferred, via a specially-designed computer encryption system, strategic intelligence information on Israeli security services to the Lebanese guerrilla organization.

Makhoul, brother of a former Knesset member and head of Ittijah, a network for Arab organizations in Israel, was arrested in late April together with Omar Abdo, another suspect in the case.

During his interrogation with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Makhoul confessed to having met a Hizbullah operative during a trip to Denmark in 2008. During the meeting, Makhoul agreed to become an agent for Hizbullah in Israel and to begin collecting what was described as "strategic intelligence" on Israeli security services.

He later received an encryption system so he could transfer the information by computer to Hizbullah.

Per request of his Hizbullah handlers, Makhoul, the Shin Bet said, transferred names and details of additional men and women throughout Israel who he believed could also serve as spies for Hizbullah.

Makhoul received a list of topics that he was asked to collect intelligence on. During his period of operations, Makhoul allegedly transferred details and the exact location on two Shin Bet facilities in the North, including the security arrangements surrounding them, reporting on security arrangements at Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin's house as well. He also provided Hizbullah with details about the Rafael defense industry facility in the North as well as a Mossad office located in northern Israel.

He was also asked by Hizbullah to collect information on the security surrounding the convoys of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, although, according to a senior security official, he did not succeed.

Hizbullah also tried to use Makhoul to gather accurate information on the effect its rocket attacks against Israel had during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The group was mostly interested in the targets that were hit by the statistical Katyusha rockets of which it fired some 4,000 into Israel during the month-long war.

This was done as part of Hizbullah efforts to more effectively utilize its rockets in a future war.

During his interrogation, Makhoul said that the connection with the Hizbullah operative was made by Hassan Jaja, a Lebanese businessman who lives in Jordan and who he has been in touch with for a number of years. In 2008, Makhoul accepted Jaja's proposal to meet with the Hizbullah operative in Denmark.

Makhoul said that he took extra precaution after a number of other Hizbullah agents were captured in Israel.

The other suspect in the case, Omar Abdo, allegedly gave Hizbullah the names of two Israelis who he believed would be willing to spy on Israel on behalf of the group. He told the Shin Bet that he allegedly met two years ago with a Hizbullah operative in Egypt and during the meeting was asked to transfer the names.

Abdo said that he refused to provide additional information but continued to maintain contact with Jaja and met with him a number of times. Before he was arrested, Abdo was asked by Jaja to transfer a message to Makhoul to immediately leave Israel.

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