Middle East

4 Israelis arrested for shutting off spying gear on Lebanon border

In this photo released by the Lebanese Army in December 2010 Israeli spying devices are seen in the Sannine mountain that overlooks eastern Beirut and the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

BEIRUT: Four Israeli field intelligence observers were arrested after allegedly shutting off surveillance equipment that prevented Israel from collecting information on its borders with Lebanon, the Israeli website Ynet news.com reported Tuesday.

According to a statement released by the Israeli Northern Command, military prosecution charges will be pressed against the four female soldiers, arrested earlier this month for “overstepping authority to the point of putting national security at risk, failing to follow orders and destroying state property,” the paper said.

It said the military prosecution also considered charging the suspects with assisting the enemy, but chances that such a severe accusation would make it into the indictment are slim.

Over the last few months, the statement added, the soldiers switched off the systems that they were in charge of on several occasions. These surveillance systems collect information of high importance about what goes on across the border. An investigation into the suspects' conduct was launched after a commander complained.

It was not immediately clear whether the soldiers admitted guilt or what were the motives behind their actions, Ynet said, adding that they told their commanders that they worked under very difficult conditions and couldn’t bear the pressure.

Ynet said a recent inquiry into Israeli observation posts showed that the soldiers' claims were justified, and the army has begun to implement the reforms that were recommended based on the findings.

Army elements noted that the severe allegation must be thoroughly investigated, and if the soldiers are found to be guilty of misconduct they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

 

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