Palestinian protesters on Temple Mount 370.
(photo credit: Ammar Awad/Reuters)
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced Thursday that a senior Hamas operative, who was arrested at the Allenby Bridge last month, revealed during his interrogation that Hamas uses the Islamic Movement in Israel as a front to advance its activities and goals in Jerusalem.
The operative, Mahmoud Toama, is a member of Hamas's General Shura Council, headed by Khaled Mashaal, which is the body responsible for making all of the organization's policy decisions in all fields, including military decisions, according to the Shin Bet.
Hamas uses the Islamic Movement to transfer money to projects in Jerusalem, such as paying for Arab youths to remain constantly on the Temple Mount in the guise of religious students in order to prevent Jewish pilgrimage to the holy site, Toama told the Shin Bet.
Hamas pays the youths a permanent salary of NIS 4,000-5,000 each month. Toama added that Hamas keeps its ties with the Islamic Movement secret in order to prevent the movement from entanglements with Israeli authorities.
Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch is in secret contact with the leadership of Hamas, according to Toama.
The Shin Bet stated that in recent months there has been a rise in violent activity at the Temple Mount, in some cases causing police to close entrance to the holy site to Jewish visitors.
Toama also told his Shin Bet interrogators about the connections between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Toama began as a Muslim Brotherhood operative in 1983 and, like many other Brotherhood members, joined Hamas when it was formed in 1987 as the Palestinian arm of the Brotherhood.
He told the Shin Bet that eight representatives of the international Muslim Brotherhood sit on Hamas's Shura Council, which sets the group's policy and manages its activities.
Toama said that both Turkey and Qatar harbor members of Hamas's leadership, including many of the prisoners released in the Gilad Schalit deal.
Both countries provide Hamas with financial aid, in addition to offering the group political support.
Toama, who served in a key financial position in Hamas's leadership, told his Shin Bet interrogators that, until recently, Iran was the main source of Hamas funding. Iran stopped its funding in the last year, causing a financial crisis in the organization.
Hamas also operates a number of companies that generate funds, mostly in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, many of them in the real estate field.
Other Islamic charity organizations in Saudi Arabia which receive donations from all over the world also help to fund Hamas, Toama stated.
Toama said that Hamas had decided to enter into a unity government with Fatah out of necessity, and the move did not mark a change in the organization's world view.
Toama was indicted Thursday at the Samaria Military Court.
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