PETAH TIKVA, Israel - An Israeli Arab has been indicted for his part in a plot by Hezbollah to assassinate IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.
Rawi Fuad Sultani, 23, an Israeli Arab resident of Tira, was indicted on Monday at the Petah Tikva District Court.
Sultani was charged with transferring information to an enemy, contact with a foreign agent and conspiring to commit a crime.
Sultani, the son of a well-known lawyer in Tira, a predominately Arab town just north of Kfar Saba, worked out at the same gym as Ashkenazi.
According to the indictment, a Hezbollah agent recruited Sultani last summer at an Arab summer camp in Morocco, sponsored by the Israeli Arab party Balad.
Since the assassination of senior Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh in February 2008, the Lebanese-based terror group has promised to avenge his death, which they blamed on Israel. Mughniyeh was killed by a car bomb in an upscale neighborhood in Damascus.
At the camp, Sultani heard talks by Hezbollah agent Salman Harab, 26, a Lebanese Shi'ite, who lectured on the group's struggle against its enemies.
Salman recruited Sultani that summer and the two stayed in touch by e-mail, Facebook and telephone.
In December 2008, Sultani traveled to Poland where he met with another Hezbollah operative named "Sami."
Sultani provided Sami with information he'd accrued on Ashkenazi's workout times, clothing, and other personal habits, along with specifics on the gym, such as the number of security guards, how they were armed, workout times, and ways of accessing the building.
At Monday's hearing, Sultani's father, Fuad, insisted that his son's contact with Hezbollah agents was harmless and he had never intended any harm to the IDF chief of staff.
"At face value, the charges look grave," Sultani told Israel Radio. "But I can say now they were inflated for political reasons. I can attest to my son's innocence and will do so in court," he said.