Jerusalemite gets 3½ years for conspiring with Hezbollah

District court sentences bus driver Issam Hashem Mashahara, 38, for contact with terror group during visit to Beirut

The Hezbollah flag flying in Lebanon. (CC BY-upyernoz/Flickr)
The Hezbollah flag flying in Lebanon. (CC BY-upyernoz/Flickr)

The Jerusalem District Court on Monday sentenced an East Jerusalem man to three-and-a-half years in prison for agreeing to spy on Israel for Hezbollah.

In June, the court found Issam Hashem Mashahara guilty of contacting a foreign agent and conspiring to transfer information to the enemy.

Mashahara pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charges in a plea bargain that saw earlier accusations of espionage dropped. In November 2012, Mashahara was indicted for spying on behalf of Hezbollah.

The 38-year-old Israeli-Arab bus driver is a resident of Jabel Mukaber, an Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

According to the indictment, last June Mashahara traveled to Lebanon via Jordan with his wife. While in Beirut, he initiated contact with Hezbollah by introducing himself to a guard at a graveyard where many Hezbollah members are buried.

The next evening he met with Hezbollah agents in the graveyard and was blindfolded and taken, with his agreement, to a Hezbollah office, where his belongings were taken away and he was extensively interviewed.

During this interview Mashahara gave the Hezbollah operatives information on the location of possible terrorist targets in Jerusalem, including the residence of the prime minister. He was also asked about sensitive sites in Tel Aviv and Haifa but said he was unfamiliar with those cities.

His items were returned to him and he was released. The next day, he met the agents again and was taken, blindfolded once more, to meet a computer expert. Mashahara allegedly received encryption software — designed to look like a children’s DVD — in order to keep in contact with the organization upon his return to Israel, and about $1,500 in cash to aid him in carrying out his espionage activities.

Back in Israel several days later, he purchased a laptop and, per his instructions, set up a special Facebook account to continue his activities with Hezbollah.

He was arrested in October 2012 and confessed to his work with Hezbollah.

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