Jerusalem: Israel’s Shin Bet security service said on Thursday that it had uncovered an attempt by Iran to establish “espionage” cells in Israel.
The Shin Bet said in a statement that the attempt was discovered after a Jordanian national businessman was arrested in Israel on April 17, Xinhua news agency reported.
He was identified as Thaer Shafut, 32. The Shin Bet said that he is originally from the Hebron area in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
He was charged 10 days ago by the Military Advocate General’s Office with contacting an “enemy” and a hostile organisation and attempting to smuggle “enemy funds” into the area.
According to his indictment, he had entered Israel on behalf of Iranian intelligence to advance a plan to establish cells in Israel and in the West Bank for use to covert Iranian activity.
Shafut first came into contact with Iranian intelligence when he was in Lebanon where he met with two Arabic-speaking operatives, the Shin Bet’s statement said.
Additional meetings between Shafut and his Iranian handlers were held in Lebanon and Syria over the past two years.
At the meetings, Shafut was instructed to establish a commercial infrastructure and forge business links in Israel that would serve as a cover for future Iranian activity.
His Iranian handlers were willing to invest at least $500,000 in establishing the infrastructure to enable the operation of the cells.
He had entered Israel at least three times before he was arrested.
“This case is an additional example of Iran’s continuing and varied attempts to invest considerable means and resources in establishing cells for activity against Israel,” the Shin Bet said.