Security forces arrested a group of residents in Nablus, some of them lawyers, on suspicion of facilitating Hamas attempts to manage Palestinian security prisoners, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced on Monday.
The suspects included an Israeli-Arab lawyer who resides in the Galilee.
“They took advantage of the permit rights afforded to them because of their profession,” security sources said.
The arrests took place on February 24.
The Shin Bet named Fares Abu Hassan, a Nablus lawyer, who represents security prisoners in military courts and the head of International Solidarity for Human Rights in Nablus as one suspect. In addition, it identified Muhammad Hassin Abad, a resident of the Galilee village of Ba’ana and a member of the Israel Bar Association, who allegedly acted as Abu Hassan’s partner in Israeli prisons.
Three other suspects, including a Hamas operative who also works as a journalist, were named.
“During their questioning by the Shin Bet, evidence was obtained showing that the suspects received letters that included messages from Hamas elements jailed in Israel, and dispatched them to other prisoners in various facilities. They also passed along messages between Hamas in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza,” the agency said in a statement.
The suspects’ activities were funded by senior Hamas members in the Gaza Strip, it added.
“Abad acted as a contact man between the prisoners and Hamas operatives in the West Bank and Gaza, due to his ability to enter Israeli prisons,” it said.
He was found to be in possession of a million shekels in total, the domestic intelligence agency added.
“The investigation has found that the Hamas command abroad uses lawyers as its ‘long arm,’ in order to manage members imprisoned in Israel.
It does this while using the International Solidarity for Human Rights in Nablus as a cover for the activities,” it stated.
Hamas members abroad, who were released as part of the Gilad Schalit exchange, were involved with the ISHR, according to the investigation.
“The cynical exploitation by terrorist organizations of a policy meant to defend the legal rights of prisoners is especially disturbing in light of the significant rise in the scope of West Bank terrorism, and particularly the rise in the intentions to carry out kidnapping attacks for negotiating the release of prisoners,” the Shin Bet said.