Arab MK's alleged 'handler' indicted in terrorist phone smuggling affair

Balad MK Basel Ghattas remains on house arrest as an investigation into suspicions that he aided imprisoned terrorists was ongoing.

MK Basel Ghattas (photo credit: KOKO/POOL ISRAEL HAYOM)
MK Basel Ghattas
(photo credit: KOKO/POOL ISRAEL HAYOM)
The alleged handler for Balad MK Basel Ghattas who gave him 12 cellphones and 16 SIM cards to smuggle to security prisoners in Ketziot Prison was indicted in the Beersheba District Court on Sunday.
The Beersheba District Attorney’s Office charged Asad Daka, brother of prisoner and convicted murderer Walid Daka, with illegal actions with assets for terrorist purposes and smuggling into a prison illegal communications items.
Walid is serving a 37-year term for killing Moshe Tamam, 19, in August 1984.
Basel Ghattas in court after being arrested for allegedly smuggling phones to prisoners, Dec. 23, 2016
The case has ratcheted up tension between Balad (part of the Joint List) and authorities over whether Ghattas perpetrated a serious security offense or is being hunted by law enforcement as part of a crackdown on loud politicians among the country’s Arab minority.
According to the indictment, Asad initially called Ghattas by telephone to request his help with smuggling certain items into Ketziot Prison in light of his parliamentary immunity from being searched when entering to visit inmates.
On December 18, Asad met with Ghattas to give him the equipment. The meeting took place at a Dor Alon gas station on the north side of Route 6.
Asad gave Ghattas the equipment with instructions to smuggle them to his brother and security prisoner Basil Bizra, knowing that the purpose of smuggling the equipment was to endanger people’s lives and national security.
Ghattas met with Asad and gave him various documents to smuggle into the prison. He then met with Bizra and gave him the cellphones and SIM cards to smuggle.
Both Asad and Bizra were caught by police in a standard search of their persons after meeting with Ghattas, searches that also led to the pending allegations against Ghattas.
Bizra is serving a 15-year sentence for terrorism-related activities.
Police arrested Asad, who owns a cafe in Baka al-Gharbiya, east of Hadera, on Tuesday.
Meanwhile on Sunday, lawyer Muhammad Aabad was convicted of illegal actions with assets for terrorist purposes and related charges for smuggling illegal items into prison – similar to the allegations which Ghattas is facing.