A Druze man residing the Golan heights was arrested on Monday by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), accusing him of working with Syrian intelligence to spy on the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
According to major Israeli news organisations including Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post, Dr. Iad Johary, a Druze resident of the Golan Heights, admitted to being in contact with the Syrian intelligence from 2002 until 2008 while he was going to medical school in Syria and visiting Israel during his vacations.
The Shin Bet says that Johary admitted working for the Syrian intelligence by gathering information for them about the IDF positions, bases and trainings in the Golan Heights, as well as their presence along the borders with Syria and the security measures adopted there, according to the Jerusalem Post. The newspaper also reported that Johary admitted to the Shin Bet that he had gathered information about Syrian opposition residing within the Golan Heights.
The Golan Heights is an elevated area at the South of Syria, north of Israel, which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Johary’s parents denied to Israeli news website Ynetnews that their son had spied on the IDF during his stay in Syria. The parents also added that the charges against Johary are all but a deterrence method used as a warning against undermining Israeli security.
“My son was not arrested in standard procedure; he was kidnapped and arrested in a most humiliating manner, in order to teach others a lesson at my son’s expense,” his father told Ynetnews.“We shall continue the legal procedures until we prove his innocence.”
Johary’s educational residence in Syria is part of a pattern which sees the travel of Golan residents to Syria to attend universities there. In 2009, Johary met a Syrian woman he decided to marry. They lived together in Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights, Johary’s hometown.
The news about Johary’s arrest comes during a time where relations between Israel and Syria are more sensitive than ever. As the Syrian revolution is becoming an armed conflict between Al-Assad’s forces and the opposition, international attention has been subjected to Syria’s chemical arsenal.