(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Arab members of the Israeli Knesset legislature have been increasing their visits to Palestinian terrorist and security prisoners, a new report by Israel’s Shin Bet security agency revealed Tuesday.
The report found that in 2016 Arab Members of Knesset (MKs) submitted 13 requests to visit arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti and 14 requests to visit Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
Barghouti, formerly the Palestinian Fatah party’s secretary general, is serving five consecutive life terms following his 2004 conviction on five counts of murder. Salah is serving a nine-month jail sentence following his May 2016 conviction on charges of incitement to violence and racism.
The Arab lawmakers also visited terrorist Mahmoud Jabarin, who killed three Israeli soldiers in 1992, and Bilal Kayed, an operative of the Salah a-Din Brigades who was convicted of a series of security offenses and plans to carry out terrorist attacks.
The rise in Arab MKs' visits to Palestinian terrorist and security prisoners has prompted the Shin Bet to closely monitor that trend—particularly because the visits are held in private rooms and lawmakers are not searched before entering the prisons.
An ongoing investigation into MK Basel Ghattas (Joint Arab List)—who is suspected of smuggling cellular phones, SIM cards and coded messages to Fatah security prisoners in Ketziot Prison—has prompted Israeli Police Major Crimes Unit investigators to look into his past visits to Palestinian security prisoners to see whether he smuggled contraband to them.
According to the Shin Bet report, Joint Arab List party leader MK Ayman Odeh visits Barghouti regularly, and MK Ahmad Tibi often visits both Barghouti and Salah. Additionally, MK Jamal Zahalka has visited several Palestinian security prisoners during the past year.