Ghattas to Be Indicted in Phone-Smuggling Case

Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas at the Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court in December. (Yair Sagi/Pool)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday announced that an indictment would be issued against United Arab List MK Bassal Ghattas. The Arab MK will be charged with smuggling cell phones into a security facility for the use of terrorists.

Ghattas is currently under house arrest and will remain as such for at least the next five weeks, while police investigate the allegations 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. On Sunday, an indictment was handed down against Assad Daka, a relative and aide to Ghattas. According to the indictment, Daka provided Ghattas with 12 devices and 16 SIM cards, for use by terrorists.

The Knesset Ethics Committee on Monday voted to suspend the MK. He is barred from voting on bills and cannot attend Knesset sessions due to his house arrest, but he is receiving his salary. The Committee said that regardless of the legal implications of his acts, they were at the very least an ethics violation.

Speaking to Army Radio, Ghattas said that the decision was “politically motivated, and an act of personal revenge against me. This is the first time an MK has been treated in this manner, in the face of still-unproven criminal charges in an ongoing, open case. The Ethics Committee appointed itself judge and jury, and imposed a punishment.” Ghattas added that he was considering appealing to the High Court, demanding that he be restored to his position.

In an interview with the news site Al Jazeera last week, Ghattas said that he was completely innocent, and that his arrest was due to anti-Arab “incitement. This is part of the fall of Israel down the slippery slope of racism, as the right and radical religious rise in power. I will pay any price to protect my rights to defend my nation, and in particular our prisoners.”