Israel arrests Iran TV reporter for incitement, supporting terror

Bassam al-Safadi, a Druze resident of the Golan Heights, to remain in police custody until Sunday

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Bassam Safadi. (screen capture: Al-Alam)
Bassam Safadi. (screen capture: Al-Alam)

A journalist for an Iranian news outlet was arrested in northern Israel on Wednesday for incitement and supporting terror groups, police said.

Bassam al-Safadi, a 43-year-old resident of the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights, has been accused of “publishing statements in support of terror groups and incitement to violence or terror,” a police spokesperson said.

Safadi is a reporter for Iran’s al-Alam news network, which draws its funding from the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting company.

On its website, the television channel claimed Safadi was arrested for “no reason,” saying it was likely linked to a report in which he alleged that Israel was “stealing” oil on the Golan Heights — a reference to Israeli exploratory drilling in the Israeli-controlled side of the plateau, which is captured from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War.

According to the Iranian outlet, Safadi’s laptop and camera were also confiscated during his arrest on Wednesday morning.

Majdal Shams is one of the largest Druze communities in Israel. Though the town was formally annexed by Israel in the 1970s, many living there continue to support the Assad regime in Syria.

Many Majdal Shams residents have refused to accept Israeli citizenship; however, Safadi is not one of them, police said.

In 2009, two other reporters for al-Alam were arrested by Israel. Reporter Khodr Shahine and his assistant, Mohammed Sarhan, were sentenced to two months in prison for publishing information about troop movements during a 2008-2009 military operation in Gaza that had been censored by the Israel Defense Forces.

On Wednesday, Safadi was brought before a Nazareth District Court, where it was decided that he will remain in police custody until Sunday.

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