Hamas men who hid out in J'lem Red Cross are indicted

February 8, 2012 02:15

District Attorney indicts the two for membership in a military terrorist organization and illegally residing in Israel.

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The Hamas men in front of J'lem Red Cross compound

The Hamas members in front of J'lem Red Cross compound 390. (photo credit: Melanie Lidman)

The Jerusalem District Attorney indicted two Hamas members on Tuesday morning for membership in a military terrorist organization and illegally residing in Israel.

Khaled Abu-Arafa and Muhammed Totah lived in the Red Cross compound in east Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood for 18 months in order to resist arrest.

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Police arrested the two men January 23. The men had been staying in the building with Hamas legislator Ahmad Attoun, who was arrested last year, and Muhammed Abu Tir, who was arrested in 2010.

Abu-Arafa and Totah were elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council as representatives of Hamas in 2006. Interior Minister Eli Yishai revoked the men’s residency cards last spring, after the politicians refused to renounce their ties to Hamas.

Attoun, Abu-Arafa and Totah held blue identification cards, which gave them Israeli residency but not citizenship.

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) required them to leave the country by June 30, 2010, following an unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court to freeze the Interior Ministry’s decision.

Their sit-in at the Red Cross compound began July 1, 2010.

According to the indictment, the men held frequent strategy meetings with other Hamas politicians and met with international leaders, distributed propaganda, and held regular Friday prayers with large crowds at their protest tent, erected in the courtyard of the Red Cross building.

The Red Cross does not have political immunity, and a spokeswoman for the Red Cross said last year the police was immediately aware of the men’s decision to erect a protest tent on its property. Totah and Abu- Arafa are accused of membership in a terrorist organization, support of a terrorist organization and illegal residency. Authorities are asking they be kept in detention until the end of their trial. They will have a remand hearing in the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday.

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