Four Arab Israelis were arrested last month on suspicion of smuggling into the country munitions they received from Hezbollah, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency announced Thursday.
The four, residents of Kfar Qasim village and the town of Lod, were indicted on Thursday on charges of arms trafficking.
According to the Shin Bet announcement, which included pictures of those arrested, Kafr Qasim residents Jalal Khursa, Ahmed Issa and Muhammed Issa and Lod resident Nuh Assam were caught in possession of Iranian-made explosives. The Shin Bet suspects the four were part of a smuggling ring that received and distributed illegal arms and possibly drugs from Hezbollah. The security agency is now looking into other Israelis suspected of involvement in the smuggling ring.
A Times of Israel report revealed that the four men were arrested in two separate raids. The three Kafr Qasim residents were arrested on suspicion of having smuggled “a large number of quality weapons” into Israel. Two Iranian-made explosive devices, among other weapons, were seized by Israeli security forces in the Kafr Qasim raid.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the smuggling ring was uncovered in an investigation by the police, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet that began last July. The Jerusalem Post report quoted an unnamed Shin Bet official as saying, "This affair once again illustrates the efforts of terrorist elements from Hezbollah and Iran to exploit the Arab citizens of Israel for security activities against the state. It also emerged in the investigation that the line between the security and the criminal is extremely thin."
On Aug. 9, the Jerusalem District Court cleared three Israelis accused of spying for Iran after they interacted with an Iranian intelligence operative on Facebook. Israeli authorities had suspected an Iranian intelligence agent had engaged with several Israelis, falsely presenting himself as an affluent Muslim from Tehran who was curious about Judaism and planned to visit Israel, in an effort to establish contacts and collect intelligence.