'Ameer Makhoul, Omar Abdo nabbed for spying for Hizbullah'

Two Israeli Arabs suspected of contacting enemy agents; detainee's nephew: "Just another Shin Bet shenanigan."

May 10, 2010 15:04
1 minute read.
Two of the 26 suspected Hizbullah members.

Hizbullah members behind bars 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

A leading Arab Israeli political activist and a second man were arrested in recent weeks by the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] on suspicion of spying for Hizbullah and conspiring with enemy agents, the Israel Police revealed on Monday.

The two suspects have been named as Ameer Makhoul, 42, head of Ittijah  (the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations) - an umbrella group for Arab NGOs in Israel - of Haifa, and Omar Said Abdo, 40, of Kfar Kana, an activist for the Balad Arab political party.

Makhoul was arrested on May 6 and Abdo was taken into custody on April 24, security services said.

"They were arrested on suspicion of severe security offenses," police added. "The investigation, which is ongoing, is being coordinated with the attorney general [Yehuda Weinstein] and the Israel Police's Head of Investigations Branch, Cmdr. Yoav Seglovitch, as well as the state prosecution," police said.

The details were revealed following the partial lifting of a media gag order which was in place on all details of the investigation. The media-ban and details of the arrests had spread through the Israeli Arab community in recent days, and reignited a furious debate on secrecy and national security.

Some of the details from the latest investigation have been reported on blogs and Internet sites based abroad.

Attorney Amar Taha, Abdo's nephew, said in an interview with Army Radio, "This is just another Shin Bet shenanigan. In the end, they'll have made a mountain out of a molehill, and he will go home innocent."

"We believe that he is not at all related to this niche, and that they've shown up at the wrong address," he added.

Makhoul is the brother of Issam Makhoul, who served as an Arab Knesset Member on behalf of the Hadash-Ta'al party.

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