Israeli-Arab Hezbollah spy gets 7 years sentence

Court convicts Milad Hatib of espionage; spy was supposed to provide information about president's security detail.

Gavel from Reuters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
Gavel from Reuters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
The Haifa District Court on Tuesday convicted Milad Hatib of acting as a Hezbollah spy and sentenced him to seven years in prison in a plea bargain deal.
The state filed an indictment against Hatib on October 4 for various espionage offenses.
In his conviction, Hatib was found guilty of contacts with a foreign spy, conspiracy to aid the enemy during war and and working for an illegal terrorist organization.
He was not convicted of the charge of aiding an enemy during war.
A 26-year-old resident of Majd el-Kurum, Hatib was captured in early September.
Since late 2009 or early 2010, he had collected information for Hezbollah regarding the location and security details of army bases, places where weapons were kept, weapons manufacturing areas and other strategic information.
Hatib was about to provide information about President Shimon Peres’s security detail, vehicle and other information gathered after observing a visit from Peres to his village in August, but he was caught before he could hand over the information.
His next meeting with his Hezbollah handler was set for May 2013.
Trying to get an even lighter sentence, the defense argued that law enforcement had been arbitrary or racist by only arresting Hatib and not arresting his friend or his father.
The court rejected these contentions, finding that strong evidence was presented against Hatib and neither Hatib nor the state had any such evidence to present against his friend or his father.
The court noted that character witnesses in the Hatib family testified to their own loyalty to the State of Israel and how uncharacteristic Hatib’s actions had been for the family and for himself, where he had a clean record until now.
Hatib’s uncle told the court that “we, as a family, took responsibility for what happened upon ourselves at some point. We were struck by shock, beating our breasts, we feel we must have missed something with this incident… a man who harmed state security.”
Despite these arguments, the court found that Hatib’s actions, even with the most serious charges dropped in the plea bargain deal, were severe enough that they warranted a strict prison sentence as a strong message of deterrence.
Milad Hatib was “activated” by 47-year-old Burhan Hatib, a Lebanese Hezbollah agent who has been living in Denmark for years, the indictment said.
Milad started visiting Burhan in Denmark, other European states and Turkey between 2007-2009.
During this period, Burhan questioned Milad about his views on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and eventually moved on to asking about where Hezbollah missiles hit in northern Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War and how Israel’s home front reacted to the missile attacks.
Burhan also asked Milad about Israeli Arabs involved in Zionist political parties. The indictment said that throughout his meetings with Burhan, Milad always traveled with a companion.
Each time Milad traveled abroad to meet with Burhan, the costs of his travel and lodging were covered.
When Milad eventually agreed to work for Burhan in late 2009 or early 2010, Milad was paid $500 for agreeing to join Hezbollah’s spying operations in Israel.
Burhan told Milad that his reconnaissance activities were the beginning of establishing a full terror cell in Israel to aid Hezbollah in operations against the Jewish state.
The information that Milad gathered for Burhan was provided during various in-person visits to avoid leaving a trail.
Although Milad and Burhan spoke by telephone to coordinate visits and other issues, they had no electronic communications and left no electronic record.
According to the indictment, Milad revealed information to Burhan during a visit to Turkey in July that related to the weapons-making company Rafael and former Kadima MK Ahmad Dabah.
Burhan also told Milad code words by which he could recognize and make contact with a replacement, should Burhan die or be killed.
In its entirety, the indictment included charges for contacts with a foreign spy, conspiracy to aid the enemy during war, aiding an enemy during war, spying and working for an illegal terrorist organization.