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Hamas Cell Arrested, Indicted in Jerusalem

A Hamas fund raising and money laundering cell was recently arrested by Israel's security services and indicted in a Jerusalem court.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 11/29/2011, 5:54 PM

Eastern Jerusalem
Eastern Jerusalem
Flash 90

A joint Shin Bet (ISA) and Israel Police raid in Jerusalem resulted in the re-arrest of several Hamas members who had been previously released, Israel's General Security Services said Tuesday.

The raid came as the culmination of an investigation by the General Security Services that revealed a Hamas cabal secretly raising and laundering funds to further Hamas activities in Israel's capital.

Yacoub Abu Etsav, considered the leader of the Hamas council in Jerusalem, was arrested in the Old City. He was previously convicted in 2005 by an IDF court in Judea for transferring terror funds, some of which were used to prepare for Hamas' electoral contest against Fatah.

Kifah Sarhan of Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood. A member of Etsav's inner council, he served as the cell's accountant. Until his arrest he was a fellow at the Al-Quds Development Institute, a radical Hamas think tank.

Ahmad Al-Aan of  Jerusalem's Beit Safafa neighborhood. Al-Aan is a long-term confidant of Abu Etsav and Hamas member.

Fouad Hamdiya of Jerusalem's Wadi Joz neighborhood. Hamdiya serves as the head of a Hamas Islamist committee in Jerusalem.

Ashraf Ashour of Jerusalem's Ras al-Amud neighborhood. Ashour was the cell's primary fund-raiser.

GSS officials said the cabal's activities were limited to funding Hamas activities in the city, and were compartmentalized so as to maintain great secrecy.

The members were responsible for funding a number of committees tasked with carrying out educational, religious, and social activities dedicated to creating solidarity among area residents with Hamas and undermining Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.

In addition, the members were tasked with raising terror funds abroad for Hamas. GSS officials seized roughly 2.5 million NIS, which was fraudulently accounted for with fictitious contracts.

The Al-Quds Development Institute in Beit Hanina where Sarhan worked is a branch of an eponymous Hamas institute run by Raed Salah out of Umm Al-Fahm.

Salah's Umm Al-Fahm branch was shut down in October 2011 on the orders of Israel's police commissioner under on the grounds it was performing illegal activities - such as money laundering - on Hamas' behalf and furthering terrorism.

Security officials say past experience shows Hamas' educational, cultural, social, and religious activities throughout Israel are designed to win supporters - and recruits - for terrorist activity against the Jewish state.

The Hamas organization, officials say, is also seeking to strengthen its political foothold in Jerusalem as a part of its ongoing feud with Fatah - and that Hamas is seeking to gain local support among local Arabs for a violent putsch in PA administered enclaves.

The Jerusalem District Attorney's Office filed indictments against those arrested in the raid in recent days citing furthering terrorist activities, money laundering, membership in a terrorist organization, and more.