Aid for Australian jailed in Israel

THE Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to a New South Wales man who has been jailed in Israel for assisting the Islamist Hamas movement.

THE Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to a New South Wales man who has been jailed in Israel for assisting the Islamist Hamas movement.

Eyad Rashid Abuarga, 47, was on Thursday sentenced to 30 months' jail, along with an 18-month suspended sentence, as part of a plea bargain for pleading guilty "to providing services to an illegal organisation".

The organisation is Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that rules the Gaza Strip but is outlawed in Israel.

The dual Australian-Jordanian national was detained on March 24, 2011, when he arrived at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, where he was planning to enter the country on his Australian passport. He was living in Saudi Arabia at the time.

The computer technician was originally charged with "belonging to an illegal organisation".

According to the indictment, he helped Hamas with the acquisition of various computer devices, electronic equipment, encrypted mobile phones, panoramic photo equipment and technology for guiding missiles.

In the indictment, the prosecution said he had worked for Hamas for four years and stressed "the seriousness of his being recruited to help the terrorist activities of Hamas with the aim of harming the state of Israel".

After expressing his intention to visit Israel, Mr Abuarga was tasked with photographing commercial centres, collecting maps and making contact with commercial businesses, the indictment alleged.

The defence said he had expressed "sincere remorse" for his actions. He has 45 days in which to appeal the ruling.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to the man and his family," a DFAT spokesperson said yesterday.

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