JERUSALEM (AFP) – A well-known Arab-Israeli human rights activist was charged on Thursday with spying for the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.
The indictment filed in a Haifa court charges Ameer Makhoul with “assistance to an enemy in time of war,” and “aggravated espionage” as well as “contact with a foreign agent.”
It claimed he passed, through a contact, information to Hezbollah, “which is considered a terrorist organisation.”
In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating war that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Makhoul is alleged to have delivered information on the location of buildings of Shin Bet and Mossad — Israel’s domestic and foreign intelligence agencies — of an army base and of the Rafael military industries.
Makhoul, whose brother Issa is a former Arab-Israeli lawmaker, heads Ittijah (the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations), a group based in the northern port city of Haifa that fights discrimination against Israeli Arabs.
His trial will start on June 21, according to public radio.
The state prosecutor also was to submit an indictment against Omar Saeed, another Arab-Israeli activist, alleging he delivered information to an enemy and had contact with a foreign agent, media reported.
Saeed, who was arrested on April 24, and Makhoul have both informed their attorneys that they deny the charges.
Adalah, a legal watchdog group that represents the two, claimed “arrests and interrogations of Dr Saeed and Mr Makhoul were conducted in gross violation of their fundamental rights to due process.”
“The illegal methods employed against Ameer Makhoul during the initial days of his interrogation include protracted sleep deprivation and continuous interrogation, while being shackled tightly to an undersized chair that was bolted to the floor to prevent it from moving,” Adalah said.
Saeed was interrogated for prolonged stretches of time and allowed little sleep, it said.
Both Makhoul and Saeed were only allowed to see their lawyers about two weeks after being arrested, Adalah said.
And gag orders prevented media from reporting the cases until May 10.
Israel’s 1.3 million Arab citizens, who make up around 17.5 percent of the population, are the descendants of Palestinians who remained in the Jewish state after the 1948 Middle East war that attended its creation.