Hamas Arrests Gazans for Holding Zoom Video Chat With Israelis

Gaza's Interior Ministry says 'any contact with occupation is treason' after self-professed freelance journalist and member of a group called The Gaza Youth Committee partakes in chat organised by Israeli peace activists

Reuters
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A Hamas security officer unrelated to the story mans a checkpoint in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on August 28, 2019.
A Hamas security officer unrelated to the story mans a checkpoint in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on August 28, 2019.Credit: SAID KHATIB / AFP
Reuters

Hamas arrested a Palestinian in Gaza on Thursday, saying that he had taken part in a video conference with Israelis and describing his act as "treason."

The Gaza interior ministry identified the man as Rami Aman and said that some of his associates, whose details were not disclosed, had also been arrested.

Aman describes himself as a freelance journalist and member of a group called The Gaza Youth Committee on his Facebook page. The meeting for which he was arrested was held on Monday on the Zoom video conference app. It appears to have been organised by Israeli peace activists, who could not be reached for comment.

An invitation link to a Zoom conference entitled 'Meet Gazan Activists' was posted on a Facebook event page that has since expired. It read: "Finally, an opportunity to speak with Gazans who not only do not hate us but are working tirelessly to open channel of communication between Gazans and Israelis."

It also named Rami Aman and his group as participants.

"Holding any activity or any contact with the Israeli occupation under any cover is a crime punishable by law and is treason to our people and their sacrifices," Interior Ministry spokesman Eyad al-Bozom said in a statement.

Aman's family could not be reached for comment and two Gaza-based human rights groups contacted by Reuters said they have not been approached by relatives over his arrest.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 and has since fought three wars with Israel. Flare-ups along the shared border are relatively frequent. Israel regards Hamas as a terrorist group and keeps Gaza under blockade, saying its aim is to stop weapons from reaching militant groups.

Coronavirus lockdowns have driven a surge in the usage of Zoom in recent weeks because it is free, and users are attracted by its ease of use. But concerns have grown over its lack of end-to-end encryption of meeting sessions, routing of traffic through China and "zoombombing," when uninvited guests crash meetings.

The incident triggered angry comments on social media by Palestinians in Gaza, with many praising Aman's arrest.

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