Israeli Arab admits to aiding Hamas

Kafr Kassem resident confesses to planning to kidnap soldiers for NIS 2000.

The Tel Aviv District Court convicted a Kfar Kassem-man for contact with a foreign agent and conspiracy to commit treason. Lenin Altouri, 24, already a convicted criminal, confessed of conspiring with Hamas to abduct Israeli soldiers for as little as NIS 2,000, according to the indictment. It is the second conviction of an Arab Israeli accused of collaborating with Hamas in a little over a month. In conversations during the spring of 2004 with his uncle, a Hamas activist in Gaza, Altouri said he would "do anything that will help," the group, states the indictment. Altouri's confession was part of a plea-bargain deal with the prosecution. Altouri has not been sentenced. The uncle, Dr. Asad Mahmud Khalil Taha, asked his nephew to kidnap Israeli soldiers and smuggle them to Hamas operatives in Hebron and Ramallah. The nephew agreed but noted he'd need money to do the job. Taha, said the wrap sheet, offered to wire funds but then reconsidered having a friend deliver NIS 2,000 to Altouri as an advance. Needing more men for the job, Altouri contacted two other Kfar Kassem men for help, but they refused. The police and Shin Bet agents arrested Altouri in a sting operation this summer. Professor Eli Rekhess, Director of the Adenauer Center for Jewish Arab Cooperation at Tel Aviv University noted that "there is a trend of increasing Israeli-Arab involvement in terrorist activity." However the total number of Israeli Arabs drafted into Palestinian terrorist groups remains small despite their heavy recruitment efforts. Also, he said Israeli Arabs feel the Israeli media is overly suspicious of Israeli Arabs, finding them guilty even before they step into a courtroom.