Israel indicts 2 Arab citizens in aiding Hezbollah

Israel indicted two prominent activists from its Arab minority on Thursday for allegedly assisting the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
The Shin Bet security service said Amir Makhoul confessed to meeting with a Hezbollah agent and providing the group with information about Israelis and sites within the country. He faces espionage charges.
Adalah _ an Arab legal center in Israel that is representing Makhoul _ said he denies the allegations. It said he confessed to the false allegations after "harsh interrogation methods" that included sleep deprivation and being bound in painful positions for many hours.
Makhoul, who leads an umbrella network for Arab advocacy groups, was arrested on May 6 but Israel maintained a gag order on the case and prevented him from speaking to a lawyer for 12 days, according to Adalah. Israel later released limited information and fully lifted the gag order on Thursday, after the charges were filed.
Also Thursday, a second Arab-Israeli, Omar Saeed, was indicted on lesser charges of contacting a foreign agent, and transmitting information to an enemy.
Saeed also was prevented from speaking to a lawyer for 16 days after his arrest on April 24.
The case has raised tensions between Israel's Jewish majority and its Arab minority.
Israeli Arabs make up about one-fifth of the country's population. Although they enjoy the rights of citizenship _ unlike their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and Gaza Strip _ Israeli Arabs suffer from discrimination, high unemployment and poverty rates.

Updated : 2021-01-29 00:06 GMT+08:00