Lebanon has registered the highest number of arrests on charges of dealing with Israel over the past three years. Security forces have arrested 185 people suspected of collaborating with Israel since the beginning of the economic collapse in 2019.
The new figures highlight a remarkable increase compared to previous years. More than 100 people were arrested on charges of spying for Israel between April 2009 and 2014, most of them military personnel or employees of the telecommunications sector.
AFP quoted a security source as saying: “This is the first time that so many people have been arrested on charges of collaborating with Israel, and it’s because of the crisis.”
That number has jumped significantly from a previous average of four or five arrests a year, another source said, adding that the main reason was likely the economic crisis, the repercussions of the collapse of the Lebanese pound, and then the explosion of the Beirut port, which prompted the Lebanese to search for another source of livelihood to obtain hard currency.
Out of all those arrested since 2019, only three had been allegedly working with Israel prior to the crisis, one of the sources said. Of the 185, so far 165 had been prosecuted and 25 convicted and sentenced.
Among those arrested were two people who sent e-mails to the Mossad asking to work with the organization, the sources cited by AFP said.
“This was a boon for the Israelis, who targeted Lebanese on social media with job advertisements…,” one of the sources noted.
According to the same source, the Israelis later communicated with job applicants by phone.
In January 2022, a prominent judicial official reported that 21 people had been arrested as part of a security operation to dismantle 17 spy networks for Israel.
According to the informed security source, some detainees admitted that they were not aware at first that they were working for Israel despite their suspicion, but they continued to do so out of their opposition to Hezbollah.
Over the years, the Lebanese security services have arrested dozens of people on suspicion of dealing with Israel. Court rulings were issued against a number of detainees, which sometimes reached 25 years of imprisonment.