A 65-year-old Israeli was arrested by customs officials at the Ben Gurion International Airport on Monday, on suspicion of selling paragliding equipment to Iranians.
The man, Anatoly Kohan of the central Israeli town of Kohav Yair, was arrested upon his arrival from Switzerland, after customs officials became suspicious of a package he tried to send and which was discovered to be paragliding equipment meant for Iran.
Kohan, who owns a company which exports such equipment, said the shipment was made up of “sporting equipment”.
However, when the shipment was checked by Israeli security forces it was found to contain two paragliders. Security officials noted that while the paragliders are normally used for recreational purposes, they could also potentially be used for military activities or terrorist attacks, as they are capable of staying in the air for many kilometers at a time and can carry a load of several dozen kilograms.
The suspicions of security forces were further aroused when they discovered that Kohan’s shipment was planned to reach the United Arab Emirates (UAE) via Jordan. Israel has no diplomatic ties with the UAE, prompting security officials to investigate further and discover that the shipment’s final destination was Iran.
Police also said they had discovered correspondences between Kohan and officials in Iran in which the sale of paragliding equipment was discussed. It is suspected that over the last two years, Kohan conducted ongoing talks with Iranians ahead of the sale.
Kohan was brought before a judge at the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court, and was released on bail to house arrest under restrictive conditions. He is forbidden from leaving the country and was asked to surrender his passport.
This is the second time in recent weeks that Israelis have been arrested for dealings with Iran. In late February, two Israeli weapons dealers were arrested for attempting to sell military hardware to Iran.
The two attempted to send Iran replacement parts for a Phantom F-4 warplane. They allegedly attempted to send the parts via Greece.
In October, state prosecutors officially charged Iranian citizen Ali Mansouri with spying on Israel.
According to the indictment, Mansouri was recruited by Iranian intelligence in 2012 for the job of spying on Israel. He entered Israel three times for this purpose, and continuously tried to open a business in Israel in order to provide a cover for an additional Iranian agent, who was to arrive in Israel at a future date.
Iran has accused Israel of arresting Mansouri in order to “end its isolation.”