Some 30 Hamas activists have been arrested in recent months on suspicion of
establishing a branch of the Islamist organization in the Ramallah area, the
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced on Monday.
The men set up a
headquarters for Hamas in the West Bank city traditionally seen as a Fatah
stronghold, and operated in the areas of the Binyamin region of the West Bank,
according to security forces.
“During questioning of suspects by the Shin
Bet it emerged that the headquarters sought to renew Hamas’s activities and
rebuild the organization in the Ramallah area... ahead of the future elections
in the Palestinian Authority,” security forces said.
The Shin Bet
identified Murad Muhammad Khaled Abu Baha as head of the cell, naming several
Maher Ayoub Abd Dalashiya was alleged to be the
money man, and Matzav Muhammad Ahmed Sarur was responsible for recruiting
The recruitment drive involved the establishment of student
cells at West Bank universities in the Ramallah and Abu Dis areas. Hamas
transferred large funds through student bodies, and some of the money was
earmarked for Hamas prisoners and their families, according to the Shin
The suspects also tried to set up student cells in Hebron and
Bethlehem, although these efforts were interrupted by the arrests.
investigation also revealed that members of the headquarters were in touch with
the Hamas leadership abroad in order to exchange information and bring money
into the area,” the Shin Bet added.
According to investigators, the
communications were hidden with great care and involved the use of couriers,
nicknames, memory sticks and secret meetings.
In addition, two of the
suspects confessed to having taken part in the October 2000 lynch of two IDF
reservists who mistakenly entered Ramallah and were beaten to death by a
frenzied Palestinian mob.
The IDF’s West Bank prosecutor charged the
suspects with a number of crimes at the Judea Military Court.
Some of the
accused were indicted for filling leadership roles in an illegal organization,
while others were indicted for being members of, participating in or carrying
out operations on behalf of an illegal organization.
included contact with the enemy and providing funding to the enemy. All of those
involved were remanded to police custody until the end of the
Hamas is getting stronger in the West Bank, but is focusing
its activities on indoctrinating Palestinians in its extremist ideology and
creating social assistance programs, an IDF source from the Judea and Samaria
Division said last week.
The West Bank branch of Hamas is focused on
Da’wa – social aid programs mixed with indoctrination – in order to build up its
base of supporters, the source added. It is also preoccupied with a program
called Kutla, which entails the recruitment of university students through the
spread of jihadist ideology.