Conal Urquhart in Tel Aviv
Thursday January 4, 2007
An Israeli woman whose attempts to better understand Palestinians led to a campaign of vilification and charges of treason was released yesterday after serving more than two years in jail.
Tali Fahima, 30, said she had no regrets and insisted that she had done nothing to harm the state of Israel as she left prison to the cheers of a hundred supporters.
Ms Fahima, a legal secretary, was arrested in August 2004 after the last of a series of visits to Jenin, which were publicised in the media. She was detained without trial after the defence minister said she "took part in planning a terrorist attack in Israel".
She was attacked in the Israeli press as a "terrorist's whore" after journalists were briefed that she had an affair with a Palestinian militant, Zakaria Zubeidi, who is often described as Israel's most wanted man.
Ms Fahima said there was no truth in any of the allegations and said she was only arrested after she declined to work for Shin Bet, Israel's secret service.
When she was tried no evidence was presented of her involvement in a terrorist attack, although she admitted reading an Israeli army document that soldiers lost on patrol.
Ms Fahima pleaded guilty to meeting enemy agents and passing information to them as part of a plea bargain in December 2005.
The charges could have led to a life sentence but Ms Fahima was offered the opportunity to serve only a further 10 months in return for a guilty plea.
As part of the condition of her release she is "banned from leaving the country in the coming year, contacting a foreign agent or entering unauthorised territories", the Israeli prison service said in a statement.
She said she had no plans to visit Jenin and Zubeidi but said she wanted to continue to fight Israel's occupation of the territories.