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.
Police arrested the two men on January 23. The men had been staying in the building with Hamas MP 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 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 on 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.