An Israeli court convicted on Sunday a Swedish national of Palestinian-Lebanese descent for spying for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
Following plea bargaining with the prosecution, Hassan Khalil Hizran, 55, was found guilty of contacting a foreign agent and passing information to Hezbollah, a Shiite organization that controls southern Lebanon and Israel’s long-time foe.
The Central District Court said in a statement that Hizran was sentenced to 18 months in jail, a relatively light sentence in Israeli terms, after the judge concluded that he tried to avoid meetings with the Hezbollah operatives.
His contacts with the organization were “reserved and modest” and carried out with “little motivation,” according to the statement.
“When he tried to put an end to the meetings, he was put under a tremendous amount of pressure. He was threatened that he would not be able to return to Sweden, where he lived, and told his Lebanese family would be punished,” it read.
Additionally, he did not provide Hezbollah some of the information he was required to and “therefore minimized the security damage,” it added.
According to his indictment, Hizran was recruited by Hezbollah in 2009 and was tasked with recruiting Israelis, with a focus on those with ties to Jews, or access to army personnel, the defense establishment, or government officials.
He was also tasked with gathering information on Israeli military bases and other sites with large concentration of soldiers, arms and tanks.
On July 21, he arrived in Israel to visit his family and was arrested by the Shin Bet security service.
Hizran was born in Lebanon to Palestinian refugees from the Upper Galilee in northern Israel, and was badly hurt during the 1982 Israel-Lebanon war, his lawyer, Lea Tsemel, said during the court hearing.
He later received a Swedish citizenship, but some of his relatives were still living in Lebanon and Israel, Tsemel said.
“He returned to the refugees camp for family visits. The entanglement (with Hezbollah) was probably inevitable,” she said.
“He constantly tried to avoid (Hezbollah), except perhaps the initial agreement. He was required to perform various services, which he did not provide,” she added.