Four suspects from Shechem, including two lawyers, and an Arab-Israeli lawyer from the village of Baana in the Galilee, have been charged with assisting terrorism by facilitating communications between jailed Hamas terrorists and operatives in Israel and abroad.
They were reportedly indicted for membership in a terrorist organization, contact with a foreign agent and conspiring to commit a crime. Police have applied to extend their detention until the end of proceedings.
The defendants are:
Riad Abu Hassan, 47, a lawyer from Shechem in Samaria, who represents Palestinian Arab defendants in the military courts. He heads International Solidarity for Human Rights, in Shechem.
Muhammed Abed, 42, a lawyer and an Israeli citizen, resides in Baana, in the Galilee. He is a member of the Israeli Bar Association. His job was to coordinate operations in Israel's jails.
Ahmed Bitawi, 32, a Shechem-based journalist who has served time for activity in Hamas, was in charge of coordination vis-a-vis Gaza.
Lawyer Osama Makbul, 33, of Shechem, is employed by International Solidarity for Human Rights in Shechem and represents Palestinian Arab detainees in military courts.
Narameen Salem, 40, of Shechem, the only female defendant, works as a secretary for International Solidarity for Human Rights in Shechem. The Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency (also known as the Israel Security Agency or Shabak), noted that the degree of her complicity in Hamas's activities in the office has not yet been determined.
The five received letters containing messages from Hamas terrorists jailed in Israel, and relayed them to other prisoners in various jails, and also to Hamas elements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. They admitted that the operations were financed by senior Hamas operatives who used to give them large sums of money.
Dozens of letters from Hamas leaders in jail to various Hamas elements in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, as well as messages from the Hamas leadership abroad to senior terrorist prisoners, were found in the lawyers' offices. About 1 million shekels were found in the possession of Abed, who was the contact person with the prisoners because his Israeli citizenship gave him easy access to them.
A very similar case was released for publication last week, when it was revealed that security forces apprehended six terror suspects in Jerusalem, who had been running a "legal practice" dedicated to aiding Islamist terrorists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it was revealed Wednesday.
For the last three years, the suspects – five men and one woman – had run a legal practice which they had used to traffic money, pass secret messages and generally facilitate communication between terrorists in Israeli jails and operatives throughout Israel and even abroad.
They were arrested in the Arab neighborhood of Issawiya in the northeastern section of Jerusalem, in a joint undercover operation involving police and the Israel Security Agency (ISA, or Shin Bet).
Under interrogation it was revealed that two Arab brothers and residents of Jerusalem had initially set up the "Al Quds" legal practice, and immediately began using it to transfer money to other attorneys throughout the capital.
For a fee of between 500-700 shekels per visit per prisoner, the men would facilitate the transmission of secret messages and other information to and from imprisoned terrorists, covering a variety of different topics such as coordinating hunger-strikes and funding initiatives for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.