Photo Credit: Lior Mizrahi/Flash90
A Cellcom store (illustration).

A serious security indictment was filed on Thursday in Central District Court in Lod against three Israeli Arabs who reside in the north. The three are accused of aiding the enemy, providing information to the enemy with the intent of harming the security of the state, contact with a foreign agent, destroying evidence, and conspiring to aid the enemy in a time of war.

According to the indictment, one of the accused, RA, has been working since 2004 as a software engineer for the cellular phone provider Cellcom, a position that gave him very broad access privileges to the company’s computer and information systems.

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“Out of an ideological identification with the Hamas organization, in 2017, while he was in Turkey, RA met with local Hamas officials,” reads a joint statement of the prosecution, the police, and the Shin Bet. The meeting allegedly took place through the mediation of one Ashraf Hassan, an Israeli citizen who is a Hamas activist living in Turkey and Lebanon and is involved in promoting anti-Israel activities through the recruitment and exploitation of Israeli Arabs.

“Responding to requests from Hamas officials, RA transferred sensitive, secret information about the communication infrastructures in Israel which he acquired as part of his work,” claims the indictment. “His
purpose was to help elements in Hamas elements damage these infrastructures, especially after war broke out.”

According to the indictment, RA recruited SA, who worked for several years at Cellcom, and in 2017 became an outside consultant to the company on communication and computer network issues. SA gave RA information about Cellcom’s information security systems and various ways to circumvent them. He did all this, according to the indictment, for the purposes of an unauthorized external intrusion into the company’s computer and information systems, “with full knowledge that RA intended to pass the relevant information to the Hamas members in Turkey.”

Since about 2015, RA and SA had been discussing disabling or disrupting various components in Cellcom’s computer and information systems during war or military operations, the indictment alleges, noting that “they did this out of their desire to help the Palestinian military struggle against Israel, by harming a central communication infrastructure in Israel (the Cellcom company) and its users, and harming the security of the state.”

The third defendant is RA’s brother, ZA, who, according to the indictment, was also in contact with Ashraf and met with him at least three times. On one of those occasions, RA asked ZA to convey a message on his behalf, saying he wished to maintain safe communication to allow him to avoid surveillance and monitoring by the intelligence authorities of the State of Israel.

Cellcom issued a statement saying: “Cellcom strongly condemns the serious incident and worked closely with the security authorities to thwart any potential damage and help the investigation. After a thorough examination, there is no indication of damage to Cellcom customers and there is no fear of leaking personal information about customers. It should be clarified that all the security officials determined that there was no flaw in the company’s conduct. Cellcom is routinely guided by all security agencies and complies with their strictest conditions and rules, as part of its commitment as a leading Israeli communications company. The employee accused of the serious acts as well as the outside consultant were dismissed from Celcom immediately.”

Not a minute too soon…

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.