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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 02:43 GMT 03:43 UK
Israeli colonel jailed for spying
Omar el-Heib at his trial in Tel Aviv
Heib has protested his innocence
An Israeli Arab army colonel has been jailed for 15 years for spying for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Prosecutors said Col Omar el-Heib had supplied information on Israeli military movements along the border and over southern Lebanon.

The court in Tel Aviv found Heib had passed on the information in return for drugs and money. It also ordered his immediate expulsion from the army.

But Heib accused the military court of racism and said he would appeal.

"I didn't confess, I won't confess," he told reporters. "I didn't do anything. The only reason they are coming after me is because I am an Arab."

Prosecutors say Heib passed on maps, information about tank positions and troop deployments along the border with Lebanon, and information about the whereabouts of top Israeli commanders.

They said he had received thousands of dollars and drugs in exchange.

Heib was acquitted of charges of high treason.

Hezbollah is a powerful political and military organisation of Shia Muslims in Lebanon, conceived in 1982 by a group of Muslim clerics after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Israel fought an 18-year war against Hezbollah while occupying a strip of southern Lebanon before withdrawing in 2000.

The area has seen sporadic outbreaks of violence between the Israeli army and Hezbollah since then.

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