BEIRUT: Israeli police arrested 16 Israeli-Arabs over involvement in an alleged operation to smuggle drugs and weapons at the behest of a Hezbollah-linked narcotics ring.
Quoting Israeli security agency Shin Bet, Israeli media said the suspects, who are known to be drug dealers, had ties with Hezbollah-linked drug traffickers in Lebanon.
They were arrested July 27 over accusations of undertaking “terrorist activity at the behest of Hezbollah,” the agency said, according to Israeli media reports.
Four of the suspects were identified as Halim Abbas and his brother, Ezzeddine Abbas, both residents of Nahaf; Ahmed Mazariv, a resident of Beit Zarzir; and Riyadh Marariv, also from Beit Zarzir.
Shin Bet noted that Hezbollah had said it would assist Hamas during Israel’s assault on Gaza, warning the drug operation could have been a cover to smuggle weapons and establish “a terror infrastructure to perpetrate terror attacks.”
The agency said the suspects were in contact with a Lebanese man from Marjayoun, identified as George Nemer and described as “a major player for Hezbollah’s drug trade.”
Investigations revealed that the suspects were part of a plan to transfer weapons into Israel along with drugs, and that the four named suspects had undertaken reconnaissance in search of a smuggling route.
Questioning also uncovered their alleged connections to several other major Hezbollah-linked Lebanese drug figures.