Balad MK Basel Ghattas.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Balad MK Basel Ghattas, who is suspected of smuggling phones to security prisoners, was released from prison after six days on Tuesday and placed under house arrest for ten days, during which he will be allowed to participate in Knesset votes.
Rishon LeZion Magistrate Court Judge Moshe Mizrachi agreed to the request of Ghattas's lawyers that he be allowed to vote, on condition that he is accompanied from his home to the Knesset. Ghattas was arrested on Thursday shortly after being stripped of his parliamentary immunity on suspicion of conspiracy, fraud and breach of trust for bringing cellphones and sim cards to two prisoners, Basel Bezre and Walid Daka. Daka is serving a 37-year sentence for the murder of soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984.
Mizrachi set bail at 50,000 shekels and Ghattas is forbidden to leave the country during the next six months. Police had requested that Ghattas be placed under house arrest for 45 days.
Police early Tuesday arrested an Israeli Arab man, Asad Daka, on suspicion he gave a cell phone to Ghattas that the latter smuggled to his brother, Walid Daka. Asad Daka was remanded until Thursday for assisting Ghattas in conveying a forbidden and dangerous object, with Mizrachi saying in court that "there is a reasonable basis for concern that freeing the suspect will endanger public security and lead to disruption of the investigation."
Asad Daka owns a café in Baka al-Gharbiya. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post in early November, Asad Daka denied that his brother had murdered Tamam. He said his brother "believes in a state of all its citizens with everything open where the minister of defense can be Moshe and the prime minister Mohammed." He said his brother had a plan for achieving peace.
Meanwhile, a leader of the troubled Balad party charged Monday that the investigation of Ghattas is being used as part of an effort to delegitimize political activity among Arab citizens.
"There's a huge attack on the Palestinian minority, part of this attack is on the political leadership," said Sami Abu Shehadeh, a Balad central committee member. "Netanyahu and his right-wing government are trying to redraw a new line for the political game in Israel and in this new game the Palestinian minority is not a legitimate player."
Abu Shehadeh said Ghattas was being targeted as part of a larger process. Among the different aspects of the aforementioned process he included last year's banning of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, police arrests of dozens of Balad party members as part of a campaign financing probe, Knesset legislative initiatives including the bill to ban loudspeaker in the mosque call to prayer and the passage of a law last July allowing for expulsion of lawmakers for incitement to racism and support of armed struggle against Israel.
Brig.-Gen. Yuval Biton, head of the Israel Prison Service Intelligence Division, said last week that smuggled phones are generally used by prisoners to orchestrate terror attacks rather than contact relatives.