Middle East

Israel charges three Arab men with spying for Syria

A vandalised Israeli police car in the village of Majdal Shams, 11 July
Image caption An Israeli police car was vandalised during last month's riots

Israel has charged three Arab men with spying for Syria, the Shin Bet security service says.

They include an Arab Israeli citizen, and a Syrian father and son from the Druze community in the Golan Heights.

They are charged with passing information to "the enemy" and plotting to kidnap a Syrian pilot who defected to Israel. They deny the charges.

The men were arrested in July, but a gag order had been placed on the details surrounding the case.

The Israeli man, Mahmoud Masarwa, is said to be a human rights activist from a village near the northern Israeli city of Haifa.

Druze riots

The other two accused men, Majed Shaar and his son Fada, come from Majdal Shams, a Druze village in the northern Golan Heights, which was captured by Israel during the 1967 war.

Thousands of residents rioted last month when police conducted a search of one of their homes.

They surrounded the home, trapping the officers inside for several hours, before the standoff ended peacefully.

The Golan Heights is currently home to about 18,000 Israeli settlers and another 17,000 Syrian Druze.

Israel unilaterally annexed the territory in 1981, in a move that has not been recognised internationally.

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