Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Palestinian-Israeli charged with passing information to Hezbollah

Tuesday September 01, 2009 08:48 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News

A Palestinian man with Israeli citizenship was charged Sunday with passing information to the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah. Israeli officials say that Hezbollah planned to use the information to assassinate the Israeli military’s Chief of Staff.
Rawi Sultani, who maintains his innocence, points at arresting officer (AP photo)
Rawi Sultani, 23, attended the same gym as Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and allegedly gave Hezbollah agents information as to the location of the gym, the hours that Ashkenazi attended, the route that he took to get there, and information about the security and access to the gym.
An Israeli Intelligence official told an Israeli paper that the government suspected that Hezbollah was seeking to assassinate Ashkenazi in revenge for an assassination on a top Hezbollah commander, Imad Muginyeh.
But Sultani’s father, a prominent lawyer in the Israeli town of Tira, asserted his son’s innocence, claiming that he was guilty only of bragging about going to the same gym as Ashkenazi at a summer camp he attended in Morocco. He told the Israeli daily Ha’aretz that the young people at the camp, "were watching a film about Ashkenazi, and my son decided to show off. They asked him about the country club and where it was located, they took advantage of his innocence and simplicity."
According to the indictment, the young Sultani kept in touch with a man that he met at the camp, Salman Hareb, on email and Facebook. Hareb, according to Israeli officials, was actually an agent for Hezbollah that was trying to recruit supporters for the Lebanese resistance. But Sultani’s father said that his son had, in fact, kept in touch with most of the guys from the camp, with no particular preference toward Hareb or anyone else.
Sultani’s father said that Rawi and Hareb, "had ordinary conversations. Rawi didn't know the man was connected to Hezbollah, and when he realized the conversations were verging on illegal, he began to avoid him and essentially ended the relationship. So there's nothing to justify this overblown indictment.”
The Israeli government said that they will not allow bail to be posted for the young man, and will hold him until a court hearing on September 15th, when the charges will be formalized. The main charges are that Rawi Sultani “conspired to give an enemy useful information, knowingly maintained contact with a foreign agent, and knowingly gave an enemy useful information”.
But Sultani allegedly met the agent for the first time in December 2008, while, according to his father, he had already quit the gym in question several months before.

Israel: Palestinian planned to assassinate army chief
Published yesterday (updated) 01/09/2009 12:52

Bethlehem – Ma'an – Israel's military censor on Monday lifted a ban on publishing the detention of a Palestinian who was arrested two months earlier on charges he planned to assassinate the chief of staff of Israel's military. Rawi Sultani, from Tirah inside Israel, was accused of collecting information about army head Gabi Askenazi under the employ of Hizbullah, according to a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister's Office.The statement said Sultani was arrested on 10 August 2009 and has been held ever since. Others were detained, questioned and eventually released after "denying current contacts with Hezbollah."Israel alleged that the man met Lebanese Hizbullah affiliate Salam Herev during a summer camp in Morocco, and that in December 2008 during a trip to Poland Sultani met another Hizbollah member identified as "Sami."The statement said Sultani remained in contact with Sami by telephone and Facebook after his return to Israel, and that he was recruited to observe Askenazi's movements in advance of an assassination attempt. "Sultani gave 'Sami' the information he had collected on IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Ashkenazi and discussed ways in which he could be attacked, especially since he and Sultani worked out at the same facility," the statement added.