Five security prisoners on Monday were indicted for conspiring with Hamas, while behind bars, to kidnap soldiers in order to obtain their freedom through a Gilad Schalit-style swap.
The Southern District Attorney’s Office filed the indictment against the five – including an east Jerusalem resident – in the Beersheba District Court which, for the first time since the cell was busted in early May, removed a gag order on the case.
The cell was busted in early May when one of the cell members was about to be freed from prison.
His assignment was allegedly to take a number of small messages on small pieces of paper which he had smuggled in his clothing to a Hamas contact outside of the prison.
According to the indictment, the messages contained all of the necessary information for obtaining weapons, logistical support, funds and who to target for the kidnapping.
The indictment also stated that the messages had information relating to the cell members agreement that 477 prisoners, including security prisoners serving life sentences in a variety of different prisons would need to be released in exchange for returning the kidnapped soldiers.
Hayatam Tzalhiyeh, serving two life sentences since 2007, was the cell’s leader and, despite being in prison, he made wide contact with other security prisoners in a range of detention centers including: Nafha, Eshel and Shakma prisons in order to implement the plan on a practical level, said the indictment.
The indictment stated that the other originally imprisoned cell members included: Badran, Muhamad Shafik Abd Elrahman Ham’il, Malik Mahmoud Hadad and Mahmoud Ruvin Abd Alrahman.
The cell’s Hamas contact was “Abu Abdallah” a senior figure in Hamas’s militant wing, who Tzalhiyeh allegedly at times spoke to using an illegal and clandestinely hidden cellphone and who was due to give the cell members $40,000, two guns and three cellphones.
The cell was busted when the cell member due to be freed was caught in a search with some of the messages on his person, following the discovery that he had hidden some of the messages in parts of his cell, fearing that taking all the messages would lead to the guards catching him, according to the indictment.
The cell was questioned continuously by the Shin Ben (Israel Security Agency) and a range of police units until their indictment.
The indictment charged the members with conspiracy to commit a kidnapping for extortion or murder, membership in a terrorist organization, conspiracy to support an enemy in time of war, contact with a foreign agent and other charges.
The state asked to remand all of the defendants to police custody until the end of the proceedings.