majdal shams 298.88.
(photo credit: GPO)
Three Israeli Arab residents of northern Israel have been indicted on several espionage-related charges, police reported following the lifting of a gag order on the case Thursday.
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The suspects include Fada Sha'ar, 27 and his father, 58-year-old Majad Sha'ar, both residents of the Druse village Majdal Shams, and Baka al-Gharbiya resident Mahmud Masrawa.
indictment, which was read in the Nazareth Magistrate's Court on
Thursday, includes charges of espionage, aggravated espionage,
contacting a foreign agent, passing information to the enemy, conspiracy
to kidnap, entry to a closed military zone, and contacting a foreign agent
with the intention of harming state security. During the hearing, state
prosecutor Raz Valter requested the court keep the three men in custody
until the beginning of their trial.
At the end of the hearing, the court extended the suspects' remands by three weeks, until the next hearing in their case.
kidnapping conspiracy charge is linked to a plan to kidnap a Baka
al-Gharbiya man they mistakenly believed was Bassam Adel, a former
Syrian Mig-23 pilot who defected to Israel in 1989 with his fighter
bomber. After his landing, which took Israeli authorities by surprise,
Adel immediately requested asylum and has been living in an undisclosed
location in Israel ever since.
The three men are also suspected
of making a number of videos of IDF bases and facilities. They also
reportedly shot footage of a power plant in Hadera and tracked the
movements of Israel Navy submarines in Haifa.
details a saga of clandestine meetings and secret communiques made
between the defendants beginning either in 2006 or 2007. According to
the indictment, beginning in 2006 or 2007, the three men began passing
information to Madhat Tzalach, a former Druse resident of Majdal Shams
who moved to Syria and now works for the government, where he has
contacts with the state intelligence services.
prosecutors, at some point either in 2006 or 2007 Masrawa told the elder
Sha'ar that he suspected that a man living in Baka al-Gharbiya was the
pilot who defected in 1989. He allegedly asked Sha'ar to contact Madhat,
a childhood friend of Sha'ar's wife. After initial contact was made,
Masrawa and Sha'ar traveled to Jordan in June 2007, where they met in
Amman with Tzalach and an unidentified Syrian agent. The two requested
information on the pilot, who they referred to as "the bride", and
hatched a plot for the two men to kidnap him and bring him to the
Israel-Syria border fence, where Syrian agents would spirit him into the
A few months later, Masrawa flew to Cairo where he met
in a hotel with Tzalach and an additional Syrian agent, who asked him
for information on military installations in Israel. Masrawa was also
allegedly given a cell phone by the agent in order to continue
communications, as well as between $700 to $1000 for his efforts.
Masrawa returned from Cairo, the indictment alleges that the elder
Sha'ar traveled to a pharmacy in Nablus, where he purchased Diazepam
(also known as "Valium") and syringes, for use in drugging the man
believed to be the pilot.
The indictment implicates Fada Sha'ar
for maintaining contact with Tzalach in Damascus, where he studied music
between 2002 until 2008. Sha'ar is suspected of acting as a go-between
for his father and Tzalach, who he allegedly kept updated with
information on the efforts to kidnap "the bride." Fada was arrested on
July 10th at Ben-Gurion Airport immediately upon landing on a return
flight from Paris.
The indictment followed a lengthy
investigation carried out by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police
international crimes unit. When security forces came to Majdal Shams to
search the Sha'ar family home, nearly a thousand villagers surrounded
the Sha'ar family home and prevented the officers from leaving. A police
negotiation team was summoned which managed to speak with village
leaders and diffuse the situation peacefully. While negotiations were
underway, large numbers of border patrolmen, riot police, and members of
the special anti-terror unit YAMAM were sent in case the talks failed.
late July, Majad Sha'ar's wife Mona, 46, was arrested on suspicion of
being linked to the affair. She was not mentioned in the indictment
Lawyers for the three men say they have denied
the allegations against them, and have criticized police for not
allowing them to view the investigative material against their clients.
in the rest of Israel, where Druse are considered loyal Israelis and
serve in the IDF, in Majdal Shams and the other three Druse villages of
the Golan Heights villagers see themselves as Syrian.