Two members of the Israeli Arab Balad political party have been charged with conspiring with Hezbollah to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel.
Ghassan Atmallah, 40, and his brother, Sirhan, 25, Israeli Arabs and members of the Balad Party from Reina near Nazareth, were indicted in Nazareth District Court on Sunday for setting up a terrorist cell on behalf of Hizbullah in order to perpetrate suicide bombings.
Balad has three elected members in the Israeli Knesset and is seen as a more secular party which has only been in existence since 1996.
Army Radio reported that the cell, which operated in a village close to the northern city of Nazareth, included activists in the Balad party.According to the report, the cell was trained, funded and directed by Hezbollah.
Ghassan Atmallah, 40, and his brother Sirhan, 26, both residents of Reineh, near Nazareth, were charged with aiding an enemy in wartime, contact with a foreign agent and membership in a terrorist organization. Ghassan is secretary of Balad for the Nazareth region and a member of the party's Central Committee. Both men have denied the charges against them.
According to the indictment, Ghassan met in Jordan about 18 months ago with a senior Fatah operative, Ibrahim Ajawa, and the two kept in touch through telephone calls and meetings thereafter. The charge sheet says Ajawa eventually put Ghassan in contact with Hezbollah, after which Ghassan allegedly began trying to recruit Israeli Arabs for the Lebanese organization. One of his recruits, the indictment says, was Sirhan; it did not reveal the names of any others.
Security sources have said they believe that the group had other members who have not yet been discovered.
Dr. David Bukay of Haifa University's Political Science Department was asked on Arutz-7 today his opinion of the growing phenomenon of Israeli-Arab terrorist cells. "It's no longer a matter of 'wild weeds,'" he said this morning, after the sixth such cell in a year was uncovered yesterday, "but rather a common phenomenon. Hizbullah is the new big leader, starting with Israel's retreat from Lebanon, and now Balad and Islamic Jihad are now blatantly Hizbullah movements."
If Israeli Arab involvement in terrorist cells continues to grow then after the barrier separating the West Bank from Israel is completed terrorist attacks may continue but now with Israeli Arab citizens as the attackers. However, it seems unlikely that the Israeli Arabs will be able to launch attacks at anywhere near the frequency that the Palestinians launch them. The Israeli Arabs can be watched more easily than people in the West Bank.
Theirs was the sixth Hizballah-operated Israeli Arab terror cell to be uncovered by security forces in the past 12 months.
One odd fact about this is the emphasis is on Hezbollah (which has about a half dozen spellings) which is found mostly in Lebanon rather than Hamas or Islamic Jihad which are Palestinian Islamic terrorist organizations found in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Does anyone understand why this is the case?
As Israeli Arab Muslims are reproducing at a faster rate than Israeli Jews the Jews face the long term problem that Arab Muslims are going to be a growing portion of the total Israeli population. That is going to pose an increasing security problem for Israel. As the Muslims become greater in number it is likely they will become more emboldened.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2004 February 13 12:01 AM MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis|