Hizbullah members parade 248.88.
(photo credit: )
A noncommissioned officer in the IDF has been arrested for allegedly spying for Hizbullah.
The NCO, who has served in the military for over a decade, is suspected of passing on information regarding the military’s deployment along the northern border, as well as on several “soft points,” or places along the border that are not well-guarded by the IDF.
The suspect, a resident of the North, was arrested on June 6 in a joint Israel Police and Military Police investigation. Six civilians have also been arrested in the affair, and another suspect remains at large.RELATED:Police arrest drug dealer spy
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Police say the NCO “passed on critical information to Lebanese drug dealers associated with Hizbullah regarding IDF movements along the border,” informing them of times when it would be safest to smuggle narcotics into Israel.
A senior Military Police officer said on Wednesday that the soldier had been contacted by a group of Israeli criminals known to police for their involvement in drug-related crimes.
The criminals put the NCO in touch with a number of Lebanese nationals, who the IDF said were drug dealers closely affiliated with Hizbullah. The soldier was paid thousands of dollars for his assistance.
“Drug-smuggling is a known platform for passing information to the enemy,” the senior Military Police officer said, adding that while the suspect had been paid to help in drug smuggling, he had been aware that the information he was providing could be used by Hizbullah for other purposes as well.
IDF sources said that the Northern Command was involved in the investigation and had made the appropriate changes to its deployment in light of the events.
The additional suspects have been named as brothers Salah and Osama Wahed of the Druse village of Jedida, and four men from the Druse village of Rama: brothers Shadi and Jalal Gazawi, Amir Abu-Yaman and Samir Farud. Another suspect, Muhammad Taun of Ablin is said to be evading police efforts to apprehend him.
The NCO will be charged in the coming days with passing on information to the enemy, holding contacts with a foreign agent, and plotting and attempting to import drugs. The remainder of the suspects will be charged with plotting to import drugs into the country. The Acre Magistrate’s Court extended the custody of all of the civilian suspects twice in June.
Dep.-Cmdr. Menahem Haver, head of the Galilee Police Subdistrict, said the police’s war against the drug trade “is paying dividends,” and cited the “shortage in the drug market.” He added, however, that “much remained to be done in the war against drug dealers.”
Israel Police deploys the Lebanon Border Special Drug Unit in the North. Its camouflaged officers are tasked with lying in ambush along the northern border to intercept drug-smugglers.
This is not the first time that IDF troops have apparently been accused of spying for Hizbullah.
In 2002, Lt.-Col. Omar el-Hayib, a senior Beduin officer, was arrested for spying on Israel for Hizbullah. Hayib was convicted of espionage, contact with a foreign agent and drug dealing, but was acquitted of a charge of treason. From the village of Beit Zarzir, 10 km. west of Nazareth, Hayib served in the IDF’s Northern Command and was responsible for the recruitment of Beduin soldiers. The great majority of men from Beit Zarzir volunteer for the IDF, mostly in combat positions.
The prosecution said Hayib had transferred sensitive information regarding the movements and security of then-OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to Lebanon, in addition to tank movements along the border and other military secrets. In exchange, Hayib received cash and dozens of kilograms of heroin and hashish.
In 2008, Sgt.-Maj. Louis Balut was convicted of spying for Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War two years earlier and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Balut, an IDF tracker, was convicted of giving sensitive military information to Hizbullah and of holding contacts with a foreign agent between December 2007 and February 2008.
Balut was not convicted on counts of treason and aiding the enemy in wartime, which appeared in the original indictment and for which he would have received a far more serious punishment. He was convicted of giving the sensitive information to Hizbullah as part of a drug deal with three Lebanese nationals associated with the guerrilla group.