Makhoul sentenced to 9 years for spying for Hizbullah

Arab-Israeli activist guilty of espionage, assisting Hizbullah vows to continue struggle once freed; claims Shin Bet singles out Arab-Israelis.

Amir Makhoul 311 (photo credit: Courtesy of the Ittijah website)
Amir Makhoul 311
(photo credit: Courtesy of the Ittijah website)
Israeli-Arab activist Amir Makhoul was sentenced on Sunday by the Haifa District Court to nine years in prison and a year’s suspended sentence after having been convicted of spying for Hizbullah.
The charges including being in contact with a foreign agent, conspiring to assist the enemy in wartime, espionage and aggravated espionage.
RELATED:Makhoul charged with espionageHizbullah spy suspect revokes confessionMakhoul confessed to the crimes after reaching a plea bargain with the state.
Under the plea bargain, the sides agreed that each would ask for a different sentence from the court. The state asked the court to sentence Makhoul to 10 years in prison, while Makhoul asked for seven years.
The judges, Yosef Elron, Moshe Gilad and Avraham Elyakim, wrote that while the defense had tried to play down Makhoul’s activities, “we have before us a defendant who, after coordinating in advance, met a foreign agent of Hizbullah in Copenhagen, allowed him to install a coding program in his personal computer and on at least 10 occasions, perpetrated espionage crimes in which he transferred coded messages over a lengthy and continuous time.”
The court rejected the defense claims that Makhoul had fallen into a trap set by the Hizbullah agent, Hassan Jaja.
Makhoul argued that he had hesitated before working on behalf of Hizbullah, and regretted it afterwards.
The judges described the defendant’s arguments as follows: “The defendant accepted responsibility for his actions, regretted his entanglements which started off with a ‘naïve’ relationship, at the beginning of which he fell ‘into a trap,’ and that this chapter of his life should be perceived as ‘an exception to the rule,’ not ‘ideological,’ ‘not an integral part,’ and, in his words, ‘something that deviated from my life and the things I have done in my career which are very different from the spirit of these deeds’ [for which I am on trial].”
According to the indictment, Makhoul met Hassan Jaja through his wife in 2004. They began seeing each other and drew closer in 2008. During that year, he flew to Copenhagen to meet Jaja, who revealed to him that he worked for Hizbullah. Jaja installed a coded program in Makhoul’s computer, enabling him to be in direct contact with his Hizbullah superiors.
After his return to Israel, Makhoul supplied Hizbullah with information on the location of IDF bases, the guarding of these bases and where arms were stored, strategic targets, security at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, the Nachshonim army base near Rosh Ha’ayin and other topics.
He sent at least 10 messages to Hizbullah, including the names of six Israeli Arabs who he thought might be prepared to work for Hizbullah inside Israel.
After the law enforcement authorities arrested Balad member Rawi Sultani, the son of a prominent Israeli Arab attorney, on August 10, 2009, on suspicion of security violations, Makhoul threw out the code and refused to re-install it after being asked to do so.
In April 2010, after receiving a message from Jaja to meet him in Jordan, Makhoul prepared to travel there immediately. However, the authorities issued an order preventing him from leaving the country.