Aide to Ghattas Indicted on Terror Charges in Phone-Smuggling Incidents

YERUSHALAYIM -
Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas arrives at the Lahav 433 investigation unit in Lod last week. (Flash90)

An indictment was handed down Sunday against Assad Daka, the 21-year-old relative and aide of MK Bassam Ghattas (United Arab List), who is currently under house arrest on charges of smuggling cell phones and communication devices into a high security prison for the benefit of Hamas terrorists. According to the indictment, Daka provided Ghattas with 12 devices and 16 SIM cards, for use by terrorists.

Daka is being charged with a variety of security violations, including illegal acquisition of property for the use of terrorists, and smuggling illicit items into a prison. Officials have asked the court to extend his remand until the end of proceedings against him.

Ghattas is accused of smuggling 15 cell phones to top terrorists in Israeli prisons, along with secret messages that were to be used to assist in carrying out terror attacks. He has been questioned numerous times on the matter, and has maintained his innocence.

Ghattas issued a statement saying that he had nothing to hide – and that he was in touch with police regarding the reports. Ghattas said in a statement that the accusations against him “are another example of political persecution against a leader of the Arab sector and our political activity. The police continue to try and break the spirit of my party Balad. Police asked me to come in for questioning but that meeting has not yet taken place. Visits by MKs to security prisoners are done with the full cooperation of the Prisons Service and with the blessing of the Defense Ministry. I have nothing to hide, and I will continue to represent the Arab public with legitimate political activity.”

Ministers and MKs on the right have been unified in condemning Ghattas. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said that Ghattas, along with other Balad MKs, “have for years crossed all red lines and expressed support for Israel’s enemies. They encourage and support terror, and call for boycotts of Israel.”

Transport Minister Yisrael Katz said that the “suspicions regarding Ghattas’s activities, in the ‘tradition’ of the activities of Zoabi and Azmi Bishara, who spied for Hezbollah, show how mistaken the High Court was to deny the Knesset the right to legislate a version of the Dismissal Bill that would have enabled us to act much more quickly and easily.”

Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara said that “Ghattas’s crimes require a revision of the rights and obligations of MKs. Cooperating with and helping terrorists can be defined in only one way – an attempt to harm Israel’s security.”