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(photo credit: Channel 2)
An Iranian newspaper in Teheran claimed Monday that an Israeli agent was detained by Iranian security forces, saying that the arrest "significantly hindered the Mossad's attempts to operate in Iran."
According to Israel Radio, the Iranian paper did not say what sources had confirmed that an Israeli agent was indeed arrested.
Israeli security officials have yet to respond to the Iranian paper's report.
In related news, Jaris Jaris, the former head of the Fasuta Local Council in the Upper Galilee suspected of spying on Israel for Iranian Intelligence, was indicted by a Haifa District Court on Monday on charges of having contact with foreign agents and for conspiring to give information to the enemy.
His remand was extended by two days.
In addition, some 10 days ago, one of his lawyers was caught trying to smuggle cellular calling cards into his prison cell.
The arrest of Jaris, 58, by Israel Police's Serious and International Crimes Unit together with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) was released for publication last Friday.
He was arrested on December 12, after police discovered that he had been recruited by Iran and was asked to use his political contacts to infiltrate the government and the Israeli political system by becoming a member of Knesset.
"Jaris' interrogation reveals a web of Iranian espionage activity against Israel," defense officials said. "The efforts included attempts to infiltrate an Iranian agent into the Knesset with the primary goal of obtaining classified information and influencing the government decisions."
Jaris, police said, fled Israel in 1970 and moved to Lebanon after he was caught operating a Fatah terror cell. Once in Lebanon, Jaris continued working for the Fatah and was responsible for sending terrorists across the border into Israel. In 1996, Jaris returned to Israel together with additional officials from the Palestinian Authority and from May 2001 until November 2003 he served as the head of the Fasuta Local Council.
In September 2004, police said, Jaris traveled to Cyprus to meet with Hani Abdullah - a friend he made in Lebanon - to promote the establishment of a joint research center. Abdullah told Jaris that the center, if he wanted, could be funded by the Hizbullah and Iran. Jaris agreed.
Two months later, police said, Abdullah called Jaris and told him to come to Cyprus to meet an Iranian donor for the center. During his police interrogation, Jaris admitted that the man he met was from Iranian Intelligence. The agent asked Jaris to "infiltrate the Israeli political system, to create political contacts and to join an existing Israeli political party," police said.
Jaris joined Meretz towards the end of 2004 and in conversations with political activists expressed interest in becoming a member of Knesset. Three months later, Jaris visited Cyprus for a third time. There he met with two Iranian agents who asked him about his past and his connections with politicians in Israel. Following the meeting, Jaris was asked to try and establish contacts with the top political echelon.
Police said over the course of 2005 the Shin Bet noticed a significant rise in the number of Iranian attempts to recruit Israeli citizens as spies. The defense establishment has dealt with a number of cases in recent years of Israeli-Arabs who were suspected of maintaining contacts with Iran intelligence. Some of the Israelis worked in jobs, police said, that gained them access to sensitive information.
Meretz rejected having any association with Jaris and released a statement claiming: "Jaris is one of 22,000 listed members of the party but is not at all involved in the party or in any of its institutions."