The Shin Bet prevented a series of planned Hezbollah terrorist attacks recently,
after a group of Israeli Arabs helped smuggle 20 kg. of high-grade explosives
into the country.
On Wednesday, eight residents of Nazareth and the town
of Ghajar – half of which is in Israel and the other half in Lebanon – were
charged in the Nazareth District Court with helping to smuggle the explosives.
Most of them are believed to be drug dealers.
A number of Ghajar
residents smuggled the C-4 plastic explosives into Israel in a single bag by on
June 5. Each kilogram was wrapped separately and could have been used to
assemble a separate bomb.
The bag was transferred a few days later to a
resident of Nazareth, Abed Zoabi – a known drug dealer – who hid it in his
backyard. The Israel Police found the C-4 in mid- July.
could have been used against any type of target inside Israel,” a senior Shin
Bet (Israel Security Agency) official said on Wednesday.
“This is just
the tip of the iceberg of Hezbollah’s efforts against Israel.... The attempted
attack here and the recent attack in Bulgaria are all carried out by the same
The Shin Bet official said that such an operation –
smuggling explosives into Israel from Lebanon – would have needed approval from
the top Hezbollah echelon, likely including the organization’s leader, Hassan
The official said it was possible that Hezbollah was working
with other people to recruit terrorists who would then be used to carry out
attacks in Israel. So far, the Shin Bet has not arrested anyone who was supposed
to carry out the attacks.
Zoabi, according to the Shin Bet, was in touch
with a Lebanese drug dealer named George Nimer who has ties with Hezbollah and
instructed Zoabi to hold on to the bag of explosives. Nimer told Zoabi that
someone would contact him soon to collect it.
The Shin Bet said there was
concrete intelligence linking Nimer to Hezbollah and to specific operatives in
the organization. Zoabi and Nimer spoke by cellphone after two of Zoabi’s
friends helped smuggle Israeli SIM cellphone cards to Jordan whence they were
then sent to Lebanon.
One of the suspected drug dealers arrested in
Ghajar, Shahid Ibrahim, received the bag and hid it for a short time in a field
he owns near the village.
Ibrahim’s brother-in-law is Said Kahamuz, an
Israeli citizen and former resident of Ghajar who fled to Lebanon in 2006 as he
stood trial for smuggling drugs into Israel.
The Shin Bet official said
that revelation of the terrorist plot was not expected to lead to a drop in
Hezbollah’s motivation to attack Israelis at home and throughout the
“Hezbollah is trying to create a deterrent with Israel and they
think that attacks like these will achieve that,” the official
While Arab Israelis have been arrested before on suspicion of
plotting terrorist attacks, the current arrests included one of the largest
hauls of explosives that were ready for use.
The Nazareth Magistrate’s
Court extended the custody of the defendants until August 29.
uncovering of this cell prevented major terrorist attacks,” Northern District
police head Asst.-Ch. Roni Attia said in Nazareth on Wednesday.
when the complex security reality is knocking on our door, inside and outside
the country, the public has an opportunity to take a close look at the
systematic and combined work of all the security forces,” Attia said.
added that the northern police district dedicates considerable resources to
counterterrorism, alongside crimefighting.
In 2001, residents of Rama,
near Karmiel, and Daliat al- Carmel, near Haifa, were arrested for smuggling
narcotics and arms from Lebanon.
Security forces said the weapons were
destined for terrorists in the West Bank.
In 2002, a group of Israeli
Arabs was arrested for sending sensitive information to Hezbollah in exchange
for cash and for drugs that were later sold in Israel.
arrested residents of Ghajar and Kiryat Shmona in 2003 on suspicion of taking
part in smuggling large quantities of arms and drugs on behalf of Hezbollah, and
collecting sensitive information in Israel.
In recent years, several
Israeli Arabs were arrested on suspicion of plotting attacks after falling under
the ideological sway of al-Qaida.
Residents of Ghajar expressed disbelief
that young men from the village were among the 14 involved in the terrorist
plot, a lawyer representing one of the accused told The Jerusalem Post on
“Everyone is in total shock.
The people of Ghajar are
citizens of Israel in every sense of the word and they would not do something
like this,” attorney Kamal Hattib, a Ghajar resident, said.
represents defendant Musa Hattib, said his client “has nothing to do with any
sort of terror plot,” adding that he “is the last person who would do something
Hattib said the court and the security services agree, as his
client is only facing charges that deal with drug trafficking and not security
Smuggling has been a way of life for some residents of Ghajar,
an Alawite village of around 2,500 residents on the Golan Heights. The village
straddles the border of Lebanon and Israel with residents living on both sides,
while the Hatzbani River, a popular conduit for contraband, runs along the edge
of the village.
Since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the IDF and
security services have operated a checkpoint at the entry to the village.
Residents complain that the “blockade” has dried up local businesses and limited
employment opportunities for the village’s youth.
Hattib, who has also
represented villagers in a lawsuit seeking compensation from the state for
damage caused to local houses during the Second Lebanon War, said, “There is a
blockade here, and you are searched every time you leave or enter the village.
With all of that and the army, and the police, they still can’t secure this one
part of the border? The government needs to wave a flag of surrender, because
they have failed completely and they are to blame.”