ISRAELI ARAB CHARGED WITH ESPIOMAGE
An Israeli Arab Rawi Fuad Sultani, 23, has been indicted, on Monday 08/31/2009, for allegedly working on behalf of Hizbullah in a plot to assassinate Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.
Tira resident Rawi Fuad Sultani, was arrested by Shin.Bet (Israeli Security Service) and Israel Police forces, on 08/10/2009, and indicted at the Haifa District Court.
According to the charge sheet, Rawi Sultani first made contact with Hezbollah agents at a multi-national Arab summer 2008 camp in Morocco organized by the Israeli Arab political party Balad.
Lebanese Hezbollah agent Salman Harb, who also took part in the camp, spent much of the summer lecturing the Israeli Arab participants on his group’s struggle.
Salman Harab, a 26-year-old Lebanese Shiite Hizbullah operative, met personally with the group of Israeli Balad activists, introduced himself as a Hizubllah member, and gave them a lecture about the conflict and struggle against Israel, according to the charge sheet.
Salman Harb allegedly recruited Rawi Sultani, who is the son of a well-known Tira lawyer, after the latter informed him that he and the IDF chief worked out at the same Kfar-Sava gym. The two remained in touch via telephone and Facebook after Rawi Sultani returned to Israel.
In 12/2008, Rawi Sultani allegedly flew to Poland to meet another Hezbollah agent, where he then imparted all the information he had collected on Gen. Ashkenazi. The second agent, “Sami”, allegedly asked Rawi Sultani to gather information on other senior Israeli and IDF officials (see also – Operation-Abroad).
Israeli intelligence sources assess that Hezbollah chose the IDF chief as a target to avenge the death of slain militant leader Imad Mughniyah, believed to have been assassinated by Israel (see also – Mughniyahs Death ).
Sultani has been charged with a series of security offenses, including conveying information to an enemy agent and conspiracy to commit a crime.
The suspect’s father Fuad Sultani represented him at Monday’s hearing, and denied the allegations.
He said his son was not involved in any plot to harm Ashkenazi and had carried on an innocent conversation with a fellow student at the summer camp “who in retrospect, according to the indictment, was a member of Hezbollah”.
Sultani confirmed that his son had belonged to the health club but told Israel Radio his membership expired a year ago, and declared that the charges against his son has been “inflated for political” purposes.
Balad is an Arab political party represented in Knesset. The party’s former leader, Azmi Bishara, fled Israel after police charged him with passing information to Hezbollah agents during Israel’s war against the Lebanese militia in the summer of 2006.
In 03/2009, another Israeli Arab citizen suspected of being a prospective Hezbollah spy was indicted on charges of contact with a foreign agent.
Ismail Saleiman, a 27-year-old man from the Jezreel Valley town of Hajajra, was suspected of being in contact with a Hezbollah operative and planning to spy on Israel for the terror group.
Last May, a shadowy group calling itself the “Galilee Liberators” claimed that seven Israeli Arabs arrested on terrorism charges were its operatives. The detainees, two of whom are minors, are suspected of planning terror attacks and attempting to kidnap Israel Defense Forces soldiers
In recent years, Israeli Arabs and Israeli identity card-carrying Palestinians in East Jerusalem have become increasingly involved in terrorist acts against various targets in the country.
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