Jerusalem, 22 December 2002

ISA arrests Gaza engineer who acted as Hizbullah agent
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

In early November 2002, the Israel Security Agency (ISA) arrested Ahmed Rageh Ahmed Awiti, about 40 years old, who came to the Gaza Strip from Lebanon along with other Palestinian Authority personnel in 1994. In 1999, Awiti received permission to bring his wife and children from Lebanon. Awiti works as a flight engineer at the Deihaniye airport in Gaza.

Awiti admitted to his ISA investigators that on February 24, 2001 he traveled with an official delegation from the Gaza Strip to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage. During his stay in Saudi Arabia, Awiti met with a Hizbullah operative who recruited him as an agent for the organization in the Gaza Strip, in order to conduct terrorist actions against Israel. The operative claimed that Hizbullah was interested in assisting the Palestinians in their fight against Israel. It should be noted that terrorist organizations in general, and Hizbullah in particular, have exploited the departure of Palestinians – with the approval of the State of Israel – on the Hajj to Mecca in order to recruit agents for terrorist activity against Israel.

Awiti added that in response to questioning by the Hizbullah agent, he had provided him with information on IDF actions in the Gaza Strip. Awiti said that he had been given the code name "Illi" as well as a telephone number in Lebanon of a Hizbullah operative nicknamed "Rimon" along with instructions to contact him when he returned to Israel.

On March 16, 2002, Awiti returned to the Gaza Strip and made telephone contact with "Rimon," his Hizbullah handler. Awiti was asked to come to Lebanon, apparently for military training and to receive orders for missions against Israel. Before arriving in Lebanon, Awiti was sent by the Palestinian Authority to Jordan to take part in a pilot’s course. Awiti noted that some of his communications with Hizbullah were carried out from his office at the Palestinian airport at Deihaniye.

Awiti claims that his connections with Hizbullah ceased in May 2002. However, on October 9, 2002, he again traveled to Lebanon and was arrested by ISA officials on his return in November.

Awiti added that prior to his arrival in the Gaza Strip in 1994, he underwent military training in the framework of the Fatah organization. Awiti later used the skills he had acquired to train Hamas terrorists and to help improve the capabilities of the Al-Bana missile. In addition, Awiti aided the Palestinian Authority in its preparations for combat against with Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, including supervising the digging of tunnels in built-up areas, attacks on armored vehicles, and the use of smart bombs.

Ahmed Awiti has been indicted.

Awiti is one of a long list of people Hizbullah has used to try to infiltrate the territories in order to increase terrorist activity against Israel.