(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
Police arrested two Hamas politicians who had been hiding in an east Jerusalem
Red Cross building for a year and a half.
Undercover officers entered the
compound in Sheikh Jarrah after receiving approval for the raid from Israel
Police Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino.
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The two men, Khaled Abu- Arafa and
Muhammad Totah, did not resist arrest, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld
The men had been staying in the building with Hamas MP Ahmad
Attoun, who was arrested last year. They had used the Red Cross as a hide out
since the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) ordered them to leave the city last
year after having their Jerusalem residency revoked.
Officers made the
arrest upon sight, Rosenfeld said.
“They are suspected of Hamas activity
in Jerusalem,” he said. Under the law, all activity related to the terrorist
organization is banned.
The suspects will be brought before a Jerusalem
court soon, Rosenfeld said.
Attoun, Abu-Arafa and Totah held blue
identification cards, which gave them Israeli residency but not
Interior Minister Eli Yishai revoked the men’s residency
cards last spring, after the politicians refused to renounce their ties to
The Shin Bet required them to leave the country by the end of June
Attoun, Abu-Arafa and Totah showed up at the ICRC office on July 1
of last year.
Fearing that 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
last year. “Our work is only
related to humanitarian issues,” she added.
The Red Cross has 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
water cooler, it is understood. 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.
Senior Hamas official, Aziz Dweik, speaker of the
Palestinian Legislative Council, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of
involvement with terrorist groups.
Hamas said Dweik was taken into
custody at a checkpoint near Ramallah. It accused Israel of trying to prevent
rival Palestinian factions from completing a unity deal.
arrested by Israel in 2006 and spent two years in jail.