Six Lawyers Arrested for Smuggling Letters for Jailed Hamas Leaders

Heads of East Jerusalem law firm suspected of managing network of Palestinian attorneys who passed coded letters to Hamas activists on the outside, some of which were answered in the Palestinian media.

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Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Hamas PM in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh.
Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Hamas PM in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh.Credit: Reuters

Six employees of an East Jerusalem law office have been arrested on suspicion of passing coded letters from imprisoned Hamas leaders to activists in the Islamist organization on the outside. A gag order on the case was lifted on Wednesday.

The arrests of the Palestinian employees of the Al Quds Law Office came after an undercover investigation by the Jerusalem Police central unit and the Shin Bet security service.

The police say the heads of the law office, Madhat Isawi and his sister Shirin Isawi, both residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah, managed a network of Palestinian attorneys who visited Hamas leaders in prison and passed coded letters from them to grassroots activists on the outside. The suspects received 500 to 700 shekels ($143–$200) for each visit, according to the police.

The letters contained information about Hamas' finances, the organization of Hamas-led hunger strikes in the prison system and the identities of prisoners to be released as part of the deal to free kidnapped Israel soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011. Letters also posed questions that were later answered on Palestinian television and radio shows and expressed support for Khaled Meshal as Hamas' political leader.

Shirin Isawi has been arrested and accused of similar offenses before. Her previous case ended in a plea bargain, in which she was convicted only of using property for terror purposes and stripped of her license to practice law by the Israel Bar Association. She has denied the latest allegations.

Madhat Isawi, who served time in prison for security offenses, said he and the other suspects only passed personal letters from prisoners to their family members.

The police say the suspects will be indicted in the next few days for activity in a terror organization, using property for terror purposes, conspiracy to commit a crime and contact with a foreign agent.

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