Top Hamas Official Tells Shin Bet of Links to Israel's Islamic Movement

Member of Hamas' Shura Council arrested in April admits Islamic movement in Israel used by Hamas to transfer funds, Israeli security service says.

Gili Cohen
Haaretz
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Members of the Islamic Movement protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.Credit: Dudu Bachar
Gili Cohen
Haaretz

Israel's internal security service claimed Thursday that a senior Hamas official arrested in April admitted in his interrogation that Hamas is exploiting the Islamic Movement in Israel to promote its interests in Jerusalem.

According to a Shin Bet statement, Mahmoud Mohammed Issa Toameh, a member of Hamas' Shura Council who resides in Saudi Arabia, was arrested upon his arrival to the Allenby Crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on April 14.

The Shin Bet said Toameh's interrogation revealed Hamas uses the Islamic Movement to transfer funds to its projects in Jerusalem, including payments for youths to maintain a presence at the Temple Mount under the guise of religious studies.

According to the Shin Bet, Hamas used the Islamic Movement to pay the youths a stipend of 4000-5000 shekels a month (between $1159 and 1140) for these activities.

Toameh also said the head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Ra'ad Salah, is probably in secret communication with Hamas' leadership, the Shin Bet claimed. The ties between the groups is kept secret, Toameh reportedly said, in order to prevent entanglement with Israeli authorities.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, headed by Sheik Ra’ad Salah, should be outlawed, like the Jewish extreme right-wing movement Kach, which in 1994 was declared a terror organization.

Calls to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement have been heard several times in recent years, mainly from right-wing MKs. The subject was examined in 2002 during the term of the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and was even supported by the Shin Bet security services, but in the end no decision was made on the subject.

In its statement, the Shin Bet added that an indictment against Toameh has been filed with the Samaria Military Court. 

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