Fahima tells court she is loyal to Israel

Tali Fahima, who is being tried in Tel Aviv District Court on charges relating to her contacts with the Jenin head of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, said on Wednesday she was loyal to Israel and had no intention of harming state security. During a hearing on the pleas before sentencing, Fahima told the court, "I never had any intention of hurting the state. Despite this entire campaign and the administrative arrest, there are all sorts of extraneous interests involved, and I was caught in a situation. I confessed to the amended indictment, but I repeat that I had no intention of harming the security of the state." Fahima and the state reached agreement on a plea bargain whereby the charges against her were reduced and the two sides agreed that she would serve three years in jail. The sides also agreed on a suspended sentence which the state could invoke if Fahima violated security laws in the future or entered areas that were off-limits to Israeli civilians. The agreement still has to be approved by the court. The state's prosecutor, Orly Ben-Ari, said, "The actions for which Fahima was convicted clearly and openly testify to her desire to harm the state's security interests, and even if she had other motives, they have no relevance." Fahima was arrested at an IDF checkpoint on August 8, 2004 on her way to Jenin where, a year earlier, she had befriended Zakariya Zubeidi, the local leader of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, who was wanted by Israel as a terrorist. After being held in jail for 28 days, Fahima was placed in administrative detention. She was rearrested by police on December 4 and indicted in Tel Aviv District Court three weeks later. Fahima was originally accused of six crimes, including aiding the enemy in wartime, for which the maximum punishment is the death penalty. According to the amended indictment agreed upon a few weeks ago by the state and Fahima's lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, three of the charges were dropped and she was accused of providing information to the enemy in order to assist him, contact with a foreign agent and violation of a legal order. The indictment charged that Fahima entered Jenin illegally in May 2004 and met with leaders of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, including Zubeidi and his deputy, Mahmoud Abu Halifa. During the visit, she declared that she would serve as a human shield to protect Zubeidi. On May 19, the army raided Jenin in order to arrest wanted fugitives, including Zubeidi. The soldiers lost a document, classified as top secret, which included the names of those wanted and a map showing where they lived. Fahima allegedly translated the document for Zubeidi, enabling the fugitives to hide. The panel of three judges who heard the case, consisting of Shlomo Timen, Tchia Shapira and Sarah Brosh, will sentence Fahima on December 22. Ben-Natan said she "hopes and believes the court will uphold the agreement. There is no reason not to."