Hezbollah spy caught by Israel will serve 10 months in prison

Arab-Israeli woman who was arrested in March 2020 for spying for Hezbollah will likely serve only 10 months in Israeli prison.

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

A 27-year-old Arab-Israeli who provided the Hezbollah terror organization with sensitive information about Israel was sentenced to 30 months in prison by the Lod District Court on Thursday morning.

In practice, she is expected to serve only 10 months.

Tayibe resident Mai-Bat Masarwa was arrested in March 2020, after roughly a year and a half of regularly providing photos of military bases, Israel’s northern border fence, Iron Dome batteries, the Haifa Port and other strategic locations to a Hezbollah operative.

According to her indictment, Masarwa was contacted by a Hezbollah operative identified as Ali from Lebanon through Facebook sometime during 2018. Following a brief introduction, Ali began asking Masarwa to carry out various actions throughout the country, including taking photos of strategic and military sites.

One unusual request mentioned in the indictment occurred in December of 2019, when the Hezbollah operative provided Masarwa with information about an upcoming lecture given by Israeli security analyst and journalist Yossi Melman on the topic of Hezbollah and Israel.

She was directed to attend the lecture and was even told to ask the lecturer “whether or not a war between Israel and Hezbollah was possible.”

According to the indictment, Masarwa followed the instructions she received and even recorded the question and the answer, which she later sent to Ali.

In other instances, she purchased binoculars and travelled long distances in order to get the required photos for Ali. Following a military confrontation between Hezbollah terrorists and IDF soldiers on Israel’s northern border, she was told to travel to Haifa and document the activity at the Rambam Hospital.

Masarwa’s sentencing of 30 months will include the time she spent as a detainee following her arrest. In practice, she is expected to serve 10 months in prison.

During the trial, prosecutor Shahaf Kleinman-Shimoni from the Central District Attorney’s Office, argued that Masarwa’s crimes justify a severe penalty due to their potential risk to Israel’s national security, asking for a sentence of 3.5 years.

“These are crimes that attempt to undermine the existence of the State of Israel. The potential of the damage caused to the state in aiding such an organization is of the highest level. The defendant was not passive in her actions, but rather, very active. She took initiative and drove to various locations, and when she was not able to [obtain what she was told to get], she went again the next day,” Kleinman-Shimoni argued.

“We must not accept the fact that a citizen who receives full rights from the state decides to undermine its existence. Being a citizen means being trusted by the state,” she stated. “The duration of the offense, expanding over a year and a half, constitutes another reason for a severe sentencing.”

The judge, however, seemed to disagree, explaining the relatively lenient sentence by noting the defendant’s young age and lack of a criminal record, as well as the harsh conditions of her arrest and the fact that the actual damage caused by her actions was “mild.”

Last month, a housekeeper employed at Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s private residence was arrested after sending pictures of Gantz’s house to Iranian hackers via Telegram and planning to infect the minister’s computer with spyware.