Israeli-Arab journalist arrested for visiting Lebanon

(JTA) — Israel arrested an Israeli-Arab journalist and political activist on suspicion that he met foreign agents after entering Lebanon illegally.

Majed Kial, 23, was arrested this week by the Shin Bet security service after returning Saturday from a visit to Lebanon, which Israel considers an enemy country, Army Radio reported Thursday.

Kial admitted to leaving Israel for Lebanon last month to attend a conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of Al Sapir, a Lebanese paper for which Kial writes on social and economic issues.

Kial, who lives in northern Israel, also is the editor of the website for Adallah, an Israeli not-for-profit organization that deals with issues connected to Israeli Arabs.

Israelis are required to seek special permission to visit enemy countries, but Kial entered Lebanon without permission through contacts at the Palestinian Authority, Army Radio reported. Aram Mahmid, Kial’s lawyer, said he viewed the law requiring Israelis to seek permission before visiting enemy territories as “arbitrary.”

Kial said he would not have been allowed into Lebanon if he had first received permission from an Israeli court, Army Radio reported. He added that he did not meet any Hezbollah officials in Lebanon and that his visit was for his journalistic work.

An unnamed Shin Bet source was quoted as telling Army Radio that Kial “contacted Palestinian officials to arrange for his entrance into Lebanon despite being an Israeli citizen. The journalist entered Lebanon with Palestinian documents. In the following days, a decision will be made about the investigation into his actions and his indictment for visiting an enemy country.”

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