A 28-year-old man from the Druse village of Majdal Shams was charged on Friday
by Northern District state prosecutors with passing on information to Syrian
The defendant, Rafaat al- Halabi, was also charged with
illegally leaving Israel, harming property and using a vehicle to carry out a
According to the charge sheet, shortly after midnight on September
20, Halabi and a second man, 24-year-old Muhammad Romia, also of Majdal Shams,
headed out to the Israel-Syria border fence.
Halabi allegedly told Romia
he planned to cross into Syria and join Syrian President Basher Assad’s army,
and invited Romia to join him, though the latter declined.
Romia his car and cellphone, with instructions to return these to his
He then cut the barbed wire fence and entered into Syria, where he
was questioned by Syrian intelligence and asked to provide information on
Israel, according to state prosecutors.
The indictment said Halabi was
asked to give names of Majdal Sham residents who oppose Assad, and complied with
the demand, while also providing photographs of the people in
He also allegedly provided information on the new border fence
erected by Israel on the Syrian frontier, information on IDF patrols and
positions in Majdal Shams, and relations between the Israeli government and
residents of the Golan Heights.
Majdal Shams came under Israeli control
along with the rest of the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six Day War, and some
residents continue to identify as Syrian citizens.
The town is currently
developing a tourism industry, and invites Israelis to visit its growing numbers
of hotels and restaurants.
On November 17, Halabi crossed back into
Israel, and was immediately arrested by Israeli security forces.
Suleiman, an attorney representing Halabi, told Channel 2 on Friday, “We believe
the indictment does not at all represent what happened.
denies having any contact that could lead to harm to state
Suleiman added that he was waiting to receive the case
material in order to respond to the charges in full.
Romia has been
charged with providing cover for a security offense, and failing to prevent it
from taking place.