A Jerusalem district court judge on Thursday convicted two top Hamas terrorists of security violations. The two, Khaled Abu Arfa and Mahmad Toutach, are top officials of Hamas, having served as members of the Palestinian Authority parliament and the PA government.
The two were convicted of participating in a terrorist activities against Israel. In a plea deal, the charge of being members of a terrorist organization was dropped from their indictment.
The two were elected to the PA parliament, with Toutach serving as a member of the parliament from January through June 2006, and Abu Arfa appointed as an assistant to the PA Ministry for Jerusalem Affairs. However, both were Israeli residents at the time they were elected – both lived in Jerusalem and held Israeli ID cards - and began working on behalf of the PA.
On June 30, 2006, the Interior Ministry removed the two from the list of legal residents of Jerusalem. Now subject to being deported to PA areas, the two holed up in the offices of the Red Cross in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, from July 2010 until they were arrested in 2011, in order to avoid deportation. During that time, they conducted PA government business inside the city limits of Jerusalem, another violation of Israeli law.
The two asked Hamas to send them VIPs – especially foreign ones – to create “facts on the ground,” and enhance Hamas' stature in Jerusalem. Among the visitors, Israeli officials said, were top Hamas terrorists, who apparently consulted with the two about possible attacks.
Sentencing will take place at a later date, the court said.