Palestinian students supporting Hamas stand next to mock Hamas rockets during a rally celebrating their winning of the student council election at Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 23, 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on Thursday announced the arrest of two Hamas activists in the West Bank on suspicion of receiving thousands of Euros of funding for the terrorist organization.
According to a statement by the security agency, 24-year-old Hamas operative Omar Kiswani from the West Bank village of Beit Iksa who is a member of Hamas’s student faction at Birzeit University, was arrested on March 7 in a joint undercover operation by the Shin Bet, the Israel Police and the IDF, and brought in for questioning by security authorities.
Kiswani’s arrest was caught on camera and widely shared on social network sites. The video showed men in civilian clothes with pistols wrestling Kiswani to the ground with one kicking him as he was on the ground. The men are also seen pointing their pistols towards onlookers and shots are heard towards the end of the clip.
The Shin Bet investigation showed that Kiswani made contact with Hamas activist Yassin Rabi’a, who had been expelled to the Gaza Strip as part of the Gilad Schalit deal, as well as with Hamas operatives in Turkey in order to ask for funds to promote Hamas activity at Birzeit University.
Rabi’a transferred a total sum of €150,000, which had been hidden in a number of locations throughout the West Bank, to Kiswani, who collected the money along with his friend and a fellow Hamas activist, 20-year-old Yahya Alawi.
The two are suspected of using the funds to promote Hamas activity.
The Shin Bet investigation found a “deep involvement of Hamas operatives in Turkey and the Gaza Strip” who were working on attempts to promote Hamas activity in the West Bank.
“This is another expression of the efforts of the Hamas headquarters in Turkey and the Gaza Strip to accelerate activity in the West Bank. They launder funds and hide them in many locations throughout the West Bank,” read the statement, adding that the exposure and arrest of the two men who studied at Birzeit University “once again points to the great importance that the Hamas headquarters attaches to student activity.
“Actions within the university’s walls serve as a main tool for recruiting and training Hamas operatives in the West Bank,” it said.
In 2017, a Hamas cell led by members located in the Gaza Strip, recruited students at Birzeit University to carry out suicide attacks.
Following Kiswani’s arrest, Birzeit Univesity released a statement saying that the arrest was a violation of international humanitarian law.
“This is not the first violent intrusion by Israeli army forces, who systematically invade the university’s campus – even though it is specifically protected under international humanitarian law,” it said.
“The kidnappers, carrying firearms in their backpacks, entered the campus during working hours and attacked the student in front of the Student Council Building, located at the center of the campus. The operatives forced and pinned the student to the ground while firing their weapons, endangering lives.”