BEIRUT (AP) — Authorities arrested five people in southern Lebanon on Friday for allegedly spying for Israel as part of the two countries' long-running espionage battle, security officials said.
At least seven others accused of spying have been arrested in recent weeks in what appears to be part of a stepped-up campaign against those suspected of gathering information on Hezbollah militants for Israel. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrilla group fought a 34-day war with the Jewish state in 2006 that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon and 159 in Israel.
Lebanese security agents arrested three family members — a man, his wife and his brother — at their homes in Ghaziyeh near the southern port city of Sidon during a raid early Friday, the officials said. Two computers and CD-ROMs were seized.
Two brothers were also arrested in a separate raid Friday in the town of Bint Jbeil near the border with Israel, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The arrests in both towns were based on information from a retired Lebanese general charged with spying for Israel last month along with his wife and his nephew, who is a government security agent, the officials said.
Israeli officials refused to comment on the arrests. "It is not our practice to comment on these sorts of allegations when they arise, not in this case, not in any case," government spokesman Mark Regev said.
Lebanon considers itself at war with Israel and bans its citizens from having any contact with the Jewish state.
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