Sunday, an Israeli military court sentenced Israeli a Lieutenant Colonel, identified as Omar Al-Hayeb to 15 years in prison, after he was “found guilty” of spying for the Lebanon based Hezbollah party and drug trafficking, Israeli online daily Haaretz reported.
Al Heib is a former tracker for the Northern Command of the Israeli army. He continued to claim his innocence after the verdict was handed down.
Al Heib added that he had been framed, and was a victim of the Israeli persecution because he is an Arab.
“I did not do anything, I did not and will not confess of something I didn’t do” Al Heib told reporters, “The only reason they are coming after me is because I am an Arab."
Israeli military sources reported that Al Hein is a highest-ranking Bedouin officer in the army. He was seriously injured by a Hezbollah roadside bombing in Lebanon in 1996; surgeons had to remove one of his eyes. The injuries left him partially paralyzed and with shards of metal still lodged in his head.
Barry Rosenthal, one of the lawyers of Al Heib, said that he will appeal the conviction and sentence.
Al Heib was arrested in 2002 after the army conducted a wide probe into drug-trafficking. He is a resident of Beit Zarzir Arab town in Israel. The six-month probe led to the arrest of additional 18 other soldiers; some of the arrestees are career soldiers.
According to the Israeli prosecution, and the conviction, Al-Hayeb agreed to a request made by a Lebanese friend to meet with Hezbollah representatives. The meeting was planned to take place in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but never took place.
When Al Heib was arrested in 2002, Hezbollah party said that it was not obliged to deny or confirm the spying reports.
Also, Israeli security officials involved in the investigation said that Al Haib was on his way to a meeting on the Lebanese border when he was arrested, and that he was carrying classified military maps, a list of army communications frequencies and night-vision goggles.