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Ameer Makhoul (Arabic: أمير مخول, Hebrew: אמיר מח'ול) is a Palestinian Christian citizen of Israel and the director of the Haifa-based Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations.
In 2010, Makhoul was arrested on charges of espionage. He admitted to the spying charge as part of a plea bargain, was convicted and sentenced to 9 years in prison.
In April 2010, a no-exit order preventing Makhoul from leaving the country was imposed. Two weeks later, Makhoul and fellow activist Omar Sayid, an Israeli Arab pharmacist, were arrested on charges of spying for Hezbollah. His arrest was also placed under a gag order an Israeli court at the request of the Shin Bet. According to the Shin Bet, Makhoul met with a known Hezbollah agent during visits to Arab countries, and was recruited to spy against Israel. A week after Makhoul's arrest, the judge in the case allowed the partial lifting of the gag order so the media could name the accused.
According to a 2010 indictment, as reported in Haaretz, both Makhoul and Sayid were recruited as spies for Hezbollah by Hassan Jaja, who is described as an agent of the organization operating in Jordan. The indictment states that in 2008 Makhoul met with a second, unnamed Hezbollah member in Denmark, introduced by Jaja. He agreed to provide information to the organization and point out potential recruits, and received encryption software as a means of communication. Makhoul then proceeded to provide his handler with the names of six potential recruits, all of which were later investigated by the Shin Bet and released without charge. Makhoul was asked to report on the exact locations of the Shin Bet installations inside Israel as well as their security arrangements. The details of two such locations were passed to his Hezbollah handlers, according to the indictment. Makhoul was instructed to provide information regarding the locations of other security and government installations, as well as the homes of prominent politicians and security personnel. In addition he was asked to record the locations of rocket strikes during the Second Lebanon War, and to pass his observations regarding Israeli public opinion on various topics. The indictment alleges that Makhoul carried out surveillance of at least one IDF base, in the vicinity of Nachshonim. He also described to his handlers the vulnerability of the Israeli civilian population as a weak point.
Denial of charges
On reading the Haaretz report, Jaja's wife, Razan Zuayter, wrote a letter to the Jordanian newspaper Alghad, in which she denied the charge that her husband had any affiliation with Hezbollah. She suggested that this is an attempt to prevent contacts between Israeli Palestinians living within the Green Line and those in the Palestinian diaspora.
In October 2010, Makhoul admitted to contacting a foreign agent, conspiring to assisting an enemy in a time of war, and aggravated espionage for Hezbollah, as part of a plea bargain. The most serious charge, "assisting an enemy in war", which could have carried a life sentence, was dropped by the prosecution as a result of the bargain.
Conviction and sentencing
In January 2011, the Haifa District Court convicted Makhoul of spying and of contact with a foreign agent of Hezbollah. He received a nine-year prison sentence, with an additional year suspended sentence.
Amnesty International described the conviction as "very disturbing development", called on the Israeli authorities to end what they described as "harassment of Palestinian human rights activists" and said that they were "extremely concerned by allegations that he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated following his arrest".
- Janan Abdu (22–28 July 2010). "To Hillary from a prisoner's wife". Al-Ahram. Archived from the original on 22 May 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Jack Khoury (30 January 2011). "Israeli Arab who spied for Hezbollah jailed for nine years". Haaretz. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- "Israeli Arab activist convicted of spying for Hezbollah". BBC News. 2010-10-27. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- Eli Ashkenazi; Amos Harel; Jack Khoury (27 May 2010). "אישום: אמיר מח'ול סיפק מידע על בסיסי צה"ל לחיזבאללה" [Charge: Ameer Makhoul Provided Hezbollah With Information on IDF Bases]. Haaretz (in Hebrew).
- "جريدة الغد - رد على خبر حول اعتقال فلسطينيين في اسرائيل". Alghad.com. Archived from the original on August 22, 2014. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
- Ahiya Raved (27 October 2010). "Makhoul admits to spying for Hezbollah". Ynetnews. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- "Palestinian human rights activist jailed in Israel". Amnesty International. 2011-01-30. Archived from the original on 1 February 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- "Arab-Israeli gets 9 years for spying for Hezbollah". AFP. 2011-01-30. Retrieved 1 February 2011.[dead link]
- Janan Abdu (Ameer Makhoul's wife) (31 January 2011). "Israel's human rights abuses in the name of security". The Guardian.
- Rechavia Berman (15 May 2010). "Exclusive: "foreign agent" of the ISA - and environmental activist florist". YouPost.
- Ameer Makhoul (6 May 2010). "Israel's repression of its Palestinian citizens unites us in struggle". The Electronic Intifada.
- Rela Mazali (20 June 2010). "From a Prisoner of Conscience in an Israeli Prison". RamallahOnline.com. Includes "Letter from Gilboa Prison" by Ameer Makhoul dated 30 May 2010.