Balad man suspected of security crimes

Druse activist Niad Milhem is second party member to allegedly violate state security.

azmi bishara 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
azmi bishara 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Following a series of hearings in the Petah Tikvah Magistrate's Court, the court lifted a gag order Monday afternoon, allowing police to reveal that a Balad Party activist had been arrested one night earlier and was under investigation by the Israel Police's International and Serious Crimes Unit. Police revealed that Niad Milhem, a party operative and secretary of the "Union of Free Druse,",was being investigated for security-related offenses. Three months ago, Milhem accompanied Balad MK Said Nafa on a controversial visit to Syria. Nafa himself was questioned Sunday by unit members regarding the trip. In early September, 330 Druse religious leaders, led by Nafa, went on a tour of Druse religious sites in Syria. Nafa's visit to Syria was unanimously blasted by government members, including Deputy Knesset Speaker Majallie Whbee of Kadima, also a Druse, who called the visit a "trip of flattery to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, initiated by members of the school of [former MK] Azmi Bishara," saying also that it "represents only the extremist, marginal groups and not the mainstream Druse population of Israel." Nafa has defended his trip to Syria as no different from those visits made to hostile Arab nations by Israeli journalists holding dual passports. Although a gag order has been placed upon the details of the case, it is not the only such investigation within the ISCU targeting Balad members. In April of this year, the ISCU revealed details of their probe into then-party head Azmi Bashara, who is suspected of aiding an enemy during wartime. Sheera Claire Frenkel contributed to this story.