Israeli soldiers are seen next to a sign post pointing to the village of Ghajar near Israel's border with Lebanon.
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
The Nazareth District Court sentenced a man from Ghajar, on the Lebanese border, to 14 years in prison on Tuesday following a conviction for smuggling explosives from Hezbollah into Israel to carry out a terrorist attack in the Haifa area.
The plot was foiled when security forces found explosives, which the primary defendant, Diab Kahamuz, had hidden south of Metulla near the Lebanese border.
Kahamuz’s brother and three others who were part of the plot were sentenced to prison terms of between 20 and 30 months for offenses ranging from aiding or passing on information to the enemy, to drug crimes to obstruction of justice.
Diab Kahamuz was also ordered to pay an NIS 120,000 fine, while other defendants were fined NIS 20,000 each.
In October 2016, the Northern District Attorney’s Office charged the group with a host of security offenses as the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed it had thwarted the Hezbollah terrorist cell’s plan to plant bombs in the Haifa area.
The agency said six residents of the Alawite village of Ghajar on the Lebanese border were arrested in recent months on suspicion of “severe security offenses” following an investigation that began in July 2016.
Security forces subsequently raided the village and heard reports that residents were in touch with Hezbollah, carrying out cross-border smuggling runs and gathering intelligence. This led to two waves of arrests, including the apprehension of Diab Kahamuz, who was named as head of the cell, on September 4.
“It emerged during the investigation that he was in touch with his father, Sa’ad Kahamuz, a drug dealer from Ghajar who fled to Lebanon in October 2006, and is known as someone who assists Hezbollah’s activities,” the Shin Bet said at the time.
The elder Kahamuz acted as a liaison between Hezbollah and his family members in Ghajar, particularly Diab, who allegedly contacted Hezbollah using encrypted email software. In May 2016 the son received two bombs that had been smuggled across the border and hid them.
“Diab was asked by Hezbollah to carry out an attack on a site of his choosing in Haifa,” the Shin Bet said in October 2016. “Diab looked at the possibility of targeting a Nesher factory and told his brothers, Yussuf and Jamil. He planned to use the latter to assist him.”
Ultimately, Diab is alleged to have told Hezbollah he would target a bus stop at a junction near Turan, on the main road from Haifa to Tiberias, which is frequented by soldiers returning to their bases on Sundays.
The Shin Bet said at the time that Hezbollah’s trafficking of explosives is closely related to the illegal narcotics trade, since drug-smuggling routes are used to get weapons into Israel via Israeli drug dealers.