Israel Charges Five With Transferring Hamas Funds to Palestinian Prisoners

An Arab attorney from East Jerusalem has been charged with transferring funds from Hamas and Islamic Jihad to Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Two other Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, an Israeli Arab and a Gaza resident were also indicted in the affair.

The case was under a gag order until yesterday.

The attorney, Shirin Isawi, complained of being tortured, imprisoned in harsh conditions and even sexually harassed in a deposition she gave her attorney, of which Haaretz has a copy. The Shin Bet security service and the Israel Prison Service denied the allegations.

Isawi is charged with orchestrating the transfer of tens of thousands of shekels from Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives in the Gaza Strip through the Qalandiyah checkpoint near Jerusalem.

Her brother, Madhat Isawi, allegedly deposited the money into the prisoners' bank accounts.

Two other defendants are charged with bribing the final defendant - the director of an East Jerusalem post office - to deposit the money in violation of regulations. The post office director, an Israeli Arab who lives in Abu Ghosh, is charged with enabling the transfer.

The indictment says that on the day Isawi was arrested - April 22, 2010 - she was carrying $100,000 and NIS 53,000 in cash, intending to deposit it in prisoners' accounts. Isawi is also charged with passing information between prisoners in different jails and between the prisoners and their organizations' leaders.

A week ago, attorney Samah Elkhatib Aboub of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel sent a letter to the attorney general and the Prison Service demanding a probe into Isawi's complaints regarding her incarceration and interrogation.

The letter is based on a deposition Isawi gave the attorney two weeks after her arrest.

Isawi said she was kept bound in a painful position for 10 to 19 hours a day during her interrogation. "When I reached the room, they made me sit on an uncomfortable chair. A warden bound my hands behind me, [using] two handcuffs and a 20-centimeter chain fixed to the back of the chair."

The interrogators prevented her from going to the toilet or eating during the lengthy interrogations, she added. "Although I asked, they put food far away from me, without removing the chains," she said.

She also said the interrogators threatened to deport her and her parents and mocked her faith and her head covering.

On one occasion, Isawi was sexually harassed: One of the interrogators, who called himself "Gil," sat close to her, and when she tried to pull away, he put his hand on her thigh and shouted in her ear.

One day, after a particularly harsh interrogation, she started vomiting blood, she said. A warden dragged her to the infirmary, throwing her on the floor. During her two weeks in prison, she lost eight kilograms, she said.

Her lawyers accused the interrogators and wardens of violating Israeli and international law, citing the High Court of Justice's ruling forbidding torture.