The courts on Sunday announced the sentencing of two Hamas politicians to 30
months in prison, about a-year-and-a-half after their dramatic arrest inside an
east Jerusalem Red Cross building where they had been in hiding for over a
The actual sentence was handed down Thursday, but its announcement
was delayed for reasons which were unclear, though sometimes similar decisions
are delayed due to security considerations.
The two men, Khaled Abu-
Arafa and Muhammad Totah, agreed to a plea bargain in which they were convicted
of participating in a terrorist organization, supporting a terrorist
organization and having illegally crossed into Israel.
The court said
that despite the fact that the two were involved in activities that could be
defined as “civilian” activities, it was clear that the purpose of their actions
was to raise public Palestinian support for Hamas, including its military
In January 2012, undercover officers entered the Red Cross compound
in Sheikh Jarrah after receiving approval for the raid from Israel Police
Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino.
The two men did not resist arrest,
police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said at the time.
The men had been
staying in the building with Hamas MP Ahmad Attoun, who was arrested in 2011.
They had used the Red Cross as a hideout ever since the Shin Bet (Israel
Security Agency) ordered them to leave the city last year after their Jerusalem
residency was revoked.
Officers made the arrest upon sight, Rosenfeld
“They are suspected of Hamas activity in Jerusalem,” he said. Under
the law, all activity related to the terrorist organization is
The suspects will be brought before a Jerusalem court soon,
Attoun, Abu-Arafa and Totah held blue identification
cards, which gave them Israeli residency but not citizenship.
interior minister Eli Yishai had revoked the men’s residency cards, after the
politicians refused to renounce their ties to Hamas.
The Shin Bet
required them to leave the country by the end of June 2010.
their arrest and expulsion from Jerusalem was imminent, they informed the Red
Cross that they wished to hold a sit-in protest on the premises to draw
attention to their situation.
The ICRC denied at the time that it offered
the politicians a haven.
“We don’t have anything to say about them,”
Cecilia Goin, spokeswoman of ICRC for Israel and the Occupied Territories, told
The Jerusalem Post at the time. “Our work is only related to humanitarian
issues,” she added.
The Red Cross had provided the politicians with a
room inside the building where they could sleep and keep their belongings, a
bathroom, electricity for their large protest tent, and a watercooler, it is
Family members came daily to bring food and
“They just came and informed us they were going to stay,” said
Goin. “The police can come any time to arrest them; we will not act against
this. We do not have diplomatic immunity, and we informed Israeli authorities
accordingly, because it was an unexpected situation.”
She said that the
Red Cross immediately made the police aware that the three men were staying on
Police refrained from entering the compound and only
arrested Attoun last year, after luring him onto the street, where he was
detained by officers.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this story.