Six lawyers from eastern Jerusalem were arrested in recent weeks for passing messages from Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives in the Gaza Strip to security prisoners in Israel, it was revealed on Wednesday.
A joint police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigation led to the arrest of the men, who are suspected of illegally passing the messages from Gaza in exchange for several hundreds shekels per prison visit over the past three years.
The undercover investigation to apprehend the suspects, which took place over a number of months, began with a tip about a law office opened in Isawiya managed by two brothers from the Jerusalem neighborhood situated on Mount Scopus.
The law office paid attorneys a salary for visiting Hamas men in jail. During the visits they would show the prisoners letters containing messages from Hamas officials, according to police.
The lawyers would write down the responses and pass them back to the Hamas officials through the law office, taking advantage of attorney- client privilege laws.
Police say the messages discussed subjects such as financing of the terrorist organization, prisoner hunger strikes, determining the identity of prisoners released in the deal to free IDF tank gunner Gilad Schalit and expressions of support by prison leaders for Khaled Mashaal to head Hamas.
After the arrest of the suspects, police raided and searched nine law offices in which they confiscated computers, hundreds of letters and receipts for close to a million shekels transferred to the law office from Hamas during the months of January and February 2014.
The two brothers who ran the law office denied the accusations against them.
Four other attorneys admitted to police that they worked for the law office and passed messages to prisoners, police said.
The suspects will be indicted in the coming days on charges including activity in a terrorist organization, conspiracy to commit a crime and contact with a foreign agent.
Police will ask that the court remand the suspects to custody for the duration of legal proceedings against them.