The brother of a convicted terrorist was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of giving cellphones and other contraband to MK Basel Ghattas, who then allegedly smuggled them to the man’s relative and another security prisoner jailed in Israel.
Police said in a statement that the suspect is Assad Daka, a 65-year of resident of the Arab town Zemer, located in central Israel. He was to appear at Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, where police will request to extend his remand.
According to Channel 2, he is the sibling of Walid Daka, the prisoner whom MK Basel Ghattas allegedly met with during a visit to Ketziot prison last week. Daka who was sentenced to 37 years for the 1984 abduction and murder of 19-year-old IDF soldier Moshe Tamam.
When The Times of Israel tried to contact Assad Daka, who is registered as living in Zemer, a mobile phone message said he was unavailable.
Ghattas, of the Balad party, which is part of the Joint (Arab) List faction, was arrested on Friday after waiving his parliamentary immunity amid accusations that he smuggled cellphones, SIM cards and coded messages to security prisoners.
The MK refused to tell investigators them who gave him the smuggled phones but his lawyers claimed Monday that police already knew who provided them. Ghattas has reportedly admitted that Daka asked him to bring him books from a third party, but maintains he was unaware of the contents of the package.
Following a Sunday night search of Ghattas’s home and his Knesset office, police appealed on Monday to extend his detention by four days. The judges gave them until midday Tuesday. Police are expected to request a further extension to his remand.
Appearing in court on Monday, Ghattas said, “I still have hope that the courts are an island of sanity and common sense.” However, he challenged his detention, asking the court whether there was any need for him to have been in custody for the past four days without being asked a single question. He asked why, as a Christian, he had to spend Christmas in prison. He also asked whether police would have treated him differently if he weren’t an Arab.
Both police and the judge presiding over the remand hearing revealed that there were major developments in the case, but so far no details of those developments have emerged.
Police reportedly arrested him over concerns he might flee the country, like Balad founder Azmi Bishara, the lawmaker who fled Israel in 2007 to escape a police and Shin Bet investigation into allegations he was paid by Hezbollah to help locate targets for rocket attacks within Israel.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.