SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – An Australian citizen was arrested by Israel and charged with spying for Hamas.
Iaad Rashid Abu Arja, 46, a computer expert, was indicted in Petah Tikvah District Court last week, accused of being recruited by the banned Islamic organization.
Israeli prosecutors allege Abu Arja, who holds dual Australian and Saudi citizenship, was asked to provide intelligence and surveillance information on key technology companies in Israel. He also holds a Jordanian passport.
Hamas believes the Israeli companies are developing technology to intercept missiles fired from Gaza.
The indictment, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, says: “The main purpose of the visit to Israel was to see how easily he gets in and out. He was asked as a computer man to meet local companies (involved in developing Israel’s anti-missile technology), to photograph them and to get maps with directions to these companies.”
It also alleges he contacted Hamas while living in Australia in 2007 and went to Syria in 2008 for military training. Last year he allegedly went to Saudi Arabia where he met a senior Hamas official who asked him to test whether he could easily enter Israel.
Abu Arja was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport when he tried to enter the country last month. He is due to appear in court in June.
Hamas’s military wing is proscribed in Australia.