The Shin Bet security service on Tuesday accused an Arab Israeli woman living in Lebanon of working to recruit Israeli citizens as operatives for the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group.
According to the Shin Bet, Beirut Hamoud sought to enlist two female residents of her hometown of Majd al-Krum, an Arab town in the Galilee. The women, whose names weren’t published, were arrested on May 2 and were granted conditional release after they were interrogated.
Hamoud was questioned by Israeli security forces in 2013 over suspicions she had contacted Hezbollah operatives and met with them at one conference in Morocco in 2008 and another in Tunisia in 2012, after which the Shin Bet said she left Israel for Lebanon. There, she married Bilal Bizri and now works as a journalist at the Hezbollah-linked Al-Akhbar neswspaper.
“Alongside her work as a journalist in Lebanon, Beirut Hamoud and her husband Bilal are run by the terror organization Hezbollah to locate and recruit Israeli citizens for operations for Hezbollah,” a statement from the Shin Bet said.
The security agency said Hamoud contacted the two Majd al-Krum residents and met them in Turkey in December, after which the Shin Bet questioned them on suspicion that Hamoud and Bizri had tried to recruit them to Hezbollah.
“During the investigation the contact between the two and Beirut was confirmed, as well as information about the meeting in Turkey and the way in which Hezbollah worked through Beirut and her husband to enlist additional Israelis for Hezbollah operations,” the Shin Bet said.
According to the security service, one of its agents called Bizri to warn him that Israel was on to them and to cease their efforts to recruit Israelis citizens for Hezbollah. A portion of the undated phone call was released by the Shin Bet.
“Send greetings to your commander in Hezbollah… in the near future there will be a few surprises for him from us,” the agent said during the call.
At the end of the phone call, Bizri said, “I’m not in Hezbollah or anything like it.” The quote was not included in the Hebrew subtitles of the recording sent out by the security service.
The Shin Bet didn’t specify for what type of operations they suspected Hamoud had tried to recruit the women. But it stressed “the great severity” with which it viewed “exploiting Israeli citizenship” to help the activities of terror groups.
Responding to the accusations, Hamoud said the two Majd al-Krum residents were childhood friends of hers and accused the Shin Bet of investigating her because she married a Lebanese national.
“In 2013 they tailed me for two and a half months and interrogated me. They found nothing, because there wasn’t anything to find, nothing but the illusions in their heads,” she wrote on Facebook.
Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.