Members of Islamist terrorist movement are accused of setting up a learning program on Temple Mount that caused increase tension & sparked public disturbances.
A group of 16 East Jerusalem residents have been arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Israel police on suspicion of being part of a Hamas cell operating in eastern neighborhoods of the city and the Temple Mount, the security service stated on Tuesday.
The Shin Bet said that the 16 suspects also includes activists from the northern branch of the Israel Islamic movement, who were part of a collaboration with Hamas at the Temple Mount compound.
The 16 suspects were “prominent operatives with Hamas in East Jerusalem and members of its operations branch and among the leaders of its activities at the Temple Mount”, the Shin Bet said.
The suspects named by the Shin Bet include 39-year-old Rami Zachariya Ibrahim Barakeh, who they say is a senior Hamas member in east Jerusalem, and served a prison term for membership in the organization. Three other main suspects include a resident of Abu Tor, and two brothers from the Old City of Jerusalem, all of whom served prison terms in the past for being members of Hamas.
The Shin Bet said that while investigating the cell they found that the Islamic Movement was operating educational courses on the Temple Mount and paying people to maintain a presence on the Mount, in order to “increase the tension and form disturbances, especially during Jewish holidays”. They added that the courses were a major contributing factor to recent disturbances on and around the Mount.
The Shin Bet added that the study program was operated in line with Hamas directives, and the security organization said that as evidence of this, a video online shows Hamas Prime Minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh praising the study program on the Temple Mount and saying that his organization is funding it.
The security organization said that the investigation revealed “another effort by Hamas to expand its influence among the Palestinian population in Jerusalem and the West Bank, during which the organization uses Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and the cooperation of other Islamic movements.”
In April, the Shin Bet and Israel Police shut down two Hamas offices in east Jerusalem, both of which they said were part of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and managed from Nazareth and Umm el- Fahm. One of the groups, the Al-Quds Development center had been closed by Israel In 2010, after information surfaced that it was being used to organize Hamas activities in Jerusalem. It reopened in 2012 after the time-limited ban on its activities expired.
After learning that Amara al-Aska assists Hamas operations as well, the Shin Bet moved to close it, and this “led to violence against forces and visitors to the Temple Mount,” the agency said.
One of the goals of the center was to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount, the Shin Bet added.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Shin-Bet-police-arrest-16-Hamas-activists-in-Jerusalem-339642