Hizbullah contact jailed for four years

Petah Tikva court convicts Arab Israeli of passing information to the enemy, fines him NIS 70,000.

hizbullah in action 248.88 (photo credit: )
hizbullah in action 248.88
(photo credit: )
A 29-year-old Israeli Arab convicted of giving information to Hizbullah was sentenced by a Petah Tikva court Wednesday to four years in jail. Khaled Kashkush, a resident of Kalansuwa, was arrested in July upon landing at Ben-Gurion Airport on a return visit from Germany, where he had been studying for the last few years. He was subsequently indicted and convicted of contact with a foreign agent and of passing information to the enemy. According to the charge sheet, Kashkush met with Hizbullah operatives starting in 2002 and was paid €13,000 for his services. The information that Kashkush passed on to Hizbullah did not pose any harm to state security, Israeli security officials have said. The court accepted the state's argument that even though the defendant's contact with Hizbullah was not at an advanced stage, his willingness and readiness to assist a terrorist organization required stiff punishment. The charge sheet related that Kashkush, who was studying medicine in Göttingen and did not have a previous criminal record, was originally approached by a doctor who headed a German-Lebanese charity that, the indictment said, funneled money to Hizbullah. The doctor, Hisham Hassan, later introduced him to a Hizbullah handler, named in the indictment as Muhammad Hashem. Kashkush gave the Hizbullah man names of other Israeli Arabs studying abroad who could potentially be recruited, as well as information about the layout of his hometown and about an internship he did at an Israeli hospital. The court said it was only his arrest that had prevented any further contact with Hizbullah. The court, which made note of the need to deter others and of the current security situation, also fined Kashkush NIS 70,000. Israeli intelligence believes Hizbullah has an entire branch that deals with drafting Arab Israelis as spies. Last year, an army colonel was convicted of espionage for passing information to the terror group to facilitate the smuggling of illicit drugs from Lebanon into Israel. In 2007, veteran Israeli Arab lawmaker Azmi Bishara fled the country rather than face charges of having ties to Hizbullah.