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
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 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
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
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
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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