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      Two Arab Israelis Suspected of Espionage

      Residents of Druze village in Golan Heights are suspected of having ties to Syrian intelligence.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 9/29/2010, 1:22 AM / Last Update: 9/29/2010, 1:18 AM

      Shimon Cohen

      On Tuesday, it was cleared for publication that two Arab Israelis, members of the Druze community, were arrested during the last few months on suspicion of having ties to Syrian intelligence agents.

      Charges were filed on Tuesday in a Nazareth court against Fars Shaar, 40, and Said Abu Zid, 57, both residents of Majdal Shams, a Druze village in the northern Golan Heights.

      The two are suspected of having been in touch with Madhat Salah, a Syrian intelligence officer who also serves in the Syrian government and is in charge of the Golan Heights region. Salah, 43, is also originally from Majdal Shams and has served time in an Israeli prison in the past on security offenses. In 1998 he infiltrated Israel’s border with Syria and has remained in Syria since.

      Fars Shaar and Salah had met when they both served time in prison. During his interrogation, Shaar admitted that Salah had asked him to kidnap an IDF soldier in exchange for money, but, according to Shaar, he refused to do so. As well, during the last three years, Shaar was used to transfer money originating in Syria to Israeli prisoners, residents of the Golan Heights, and their families.

      Shaar’s sister, during visits to Jordan, served as a contact between him and Salah. Said Abu Zid, the second individual arrested in the case, was also a contact, having met Salah while visiting Syria as part of missions to the country by sheikhs living in the Golan Heights. During one of those visits, Abu Zid transferred a letter from Salah to Shaar.

      Last May, the ISA revealed that Amir Makhoul and Omar Radwan Said, two Israeli Arabs from Haifa and Kfar Kana, were arrested for allegedly spying for the the Hizbullah terrorist organization. A plea bargain was later struck with Said, under which he will plead guilty to “working for an illegal organization” and spend seven months in prison.

      In August of 2009, Rawi Sultani, an Israeli-Arab from Tira, was indicted for conspiring to kill senior Israeli officials, among them IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. Sultani had admitted under questioning that he had planned to kill the Chief of Staff after he began working as an agent of Hizbullah. Sultani was indicted on a number of charges, including contact with foreign agents, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting enemies of the state.