Gaza man indicted for security offenses

Ahram al-Zufi allegedly belonged to al-Quds Brigades, attempted to murder IDF soldiers.

Handcuffed 260 R (photo credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier)
Handcuffed 260 R
(photo credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier)
The Southern District Attorney’s Office served an indictment in the Beersheba District Court on Thursday afternoon, charging a Gaza man with a series of national security offenses.
The indictment lists three separate charges and alleges that 23-year-old Rafah resident Ahram bin Hussein al-Zufi joined Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) – designated an illegal organization since 1990 – and underwent illegal military and weapons training with an intent to harm state security.
In 2005, Zufi allegedly met Muhammad Jamia’an al-Zufi, a member of the PIJ’s military wing Saraya al-Quds (the Quds Brigades). Muhammad suggested that the suspect join the PIJ, and promised him that if he did so, he could later join its military wing.
Zufi allegedly agreed to the proposal and joined the PIJ, attending religious classes every Friday with several known PIJ activists. Shortly afterward, the indictment says, Muhammad made good on his promise and recruited Zufi to the Quds Brigades.
According to the indictment, after he joined the military wing, Zufi took part in 30 days of military training in the Gaza Strip’s Morag region. The exercises were conducted by masked al-Quds Brigades operatives, the indictment continues, and included training in how to use weapons such as Kalashnikov rifles.
The charges against Zufi include attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, and weapons offenses, with the indictment alleging that he conspired to kill Israeli soldiers as part of an al-Quds Brigades cell run by Ismail abd-Alad.
Throughout 2006, Zufi and his fellow cell members Salah al-Arjeh, Salman al- Qadi and abd-Alad allegedly conducted “guard duties” every night between midnight and 5 a.m., to prevent IDF troops from entering the area around Rafah airport and the Brazil neighborhood near the Rafah border crossing. The cell members were all armed with Kalashnikov rifles and flak jackets, and Zufi carried an explosive device equipped with a 300- meter-cord and a remote power switch, the indictment says.
During these actions, Zufi and his cell allegedly reported their movements via radio to a PIJ operations room, and the indictment charges that Zufi conspired with Muhammad to give information to the enemy in order to harm Israel’s security.
From 2005 to 2008, Zufi allegedly gathered information about IDF tank and aircraft movements and passed this to the PIJ’s operations room. He is charged with drawing maps of IDF troop locations and bases as well, and passing these to another PIJ operative.
The defendant also attempted to shoot IDF soldiers, the indictment charges, on one occasion firing a shot at IDF troops and on another firing 20 rounds at soldiers in Gaza.
In an ironic twist, Zufi is also charged with infiltrating Israel, giving false information and obstructing justice. He was arrested in January, when he and another man, 22-year-old Ismail al-Zufi, attempted to infiltrate the country from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
According to the indictment, he and Ismail planned for the latter to be arrested after crossing over from Gaza and tell his interrogators that he was a PIJ activist so he could be imprisoned, at which point he would receive a salary from the Palestinian Prisoners Association. A Palestinian Authority law enacted in 2011 grants monthly salaries to Palestinians imprisoned in Israel for terror-related offenses.
However, when Israeli security forces interrogated Ismail, they realized he had given false information, the indictment says.
The Southern District Attorney’s Office also served an indictment in the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court on Thursday against Ismail al-Zufi, charging him with infiltration, providing false information, conspiracy to commit a crime and obstructing justice. Two other Gaza residents were indicted alongside him, but details of the charges against those two have not been released, as they are both minors.