IDF: Hizbullah recruiting Israeli spies

Military sources estimate group targeting Druse and Beduin soldiers for anti-Israel espionage.

Hizbullah fighters 224.8 (photo credit: AP [file])
Hizbullah fighters 224.8
(photo credit: AP [file])
Less than a week after the IDF revealed it had arrested a non-commissioned officer for allegedly spying for Hizbullah, security officials warned over the weekend that the Lebanese group was targeting Druse and Beduin soldiers for anti-Israel espionage. On Thursday, the Northern Command Military Court said that Sgt.-Maj. Louai Balut, 34, from Fassuta in the northern Galilee, was arrested last month on suspicion of selling information to Hizbullah and coordinating drug deals. Balut, a father of three, was remanded in custody until Monday, when the state attorney is expected to file an indictment. While Balut is suspected of passing sensitive security information to Hizbullah and helping the group smuggle drugs into Israel from Lebanon, IDF sources said the Northern Command would not make any major changes to operations or deployment of troops along the Lebanese border as a result of the case. It is believed that Balut may be one of a number of agents recruited by Hizbullah. While not revealing whether additional investigations were ongoing, security officials warned of Hizbullah's growing use of Israeli Arabs and Druse soldiers as spies. "This is an extreme point of concern," a security official said. "This is something we are aware of and are constantly keeping our eyes open to ensure that if someone becomes a spy we will be able to stop it." In June 2006, Lt.-Col. Omar el-Hayeb, a Beduin, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of belonging to a spy cell that provided maps, electronic equipment and sensitive military information to Hizbullah in exchange for drugs. Defense officials stressed that Druse and Beduin soldiers were a major asset to the IDF and that the country would not allow the Balut case to tarnish their service and contribution to the State of Israel. Sources in the Catholic village of Fassouta, which has around 3,000 residents, expressed shock, saying they hoped it was an isolated incident of a traitor recruited by Hizbullah. A former mayor of the village, Gerias Gerias, was sentenced to four years in jail in 2006 for spying on Iran's behalf.`