Golan Druse man charged with passing information to Syrian intelligence

Northern District Prosecutor's Office indicts Raafat Hamad al-Halabi, 28, for illegally crossing border, providing intel to Syria.

Quneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Quneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A 28-year-old man from the Druse village of Majdal Shams was charged on Friday by Northern District state prosecutors with passing on information to Syrian intelligence.
The defendant, Rafaat al- Halabi, was also charged with illegally leaving Israel, harming property and using a vehicle to carry out a crime.
According to the charge sheet, shortly after midnight on September 20, Halabi and a second man, 24-year-old Muhammad Romia, also of Majdal Shams, headed out to the Israel-Syria border fence.
Halabi allegedly told Romia he planned to cross into Syria and join Syrian President Basher Assad’s army, and invited Romia to join him, though the latter declined.
Halabi gave Romia his car and cellphone, with instructions to return these to his family.
He then cut the barbed wire fence and entered into Syria, where he was questioned by Syrian intelligence and asked to provide information on Israel, according to state prosecutors.
The indictment said Halabi was asked to give names of Majdal Sham residents who oppose Assad, and complied with the demand, while also providing photographs of the people in question.
He also allegedly provided information on the new border fence erected by Israel on the Syrian frontier, information on IDF patrols and positions in Majdal Shams, and relations between the Israeli government and residents of the Golan Heights.
Majdal Shams came under Israeli control along with the rest of the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six Day War, and some residents continue to identify as Syrian citizens.
The town is currently developing a tourism industry, and invites Israelis to visit its growing numbers of hotels and restaurants.
On November 17, Halabi crossed back into Israel, and was immediately arrested by Israeli security forces.
Alaa Suleiman, an attorney representing Halabi, told Channel 2 on Friday, “We believe the indictment does not at all represent what happened.
The defendant denies having any contact that could lead to harm to state security.”
Suleiman added that he was waiting to receive the case material in order to respond to the charges in full.
Romia has been charged with providing cover for a security offense, and failing to prevent it from taking place.