Hamas is using the Islamic Movement in Israel as a front organization to promote its goals and activity in Jerusalem
By Aryeh Savir
Tazpit News Agency
JERUSALEM – The Shabak lifted last week a gag order on the arrest of a senior Hamas terrorist in April 2014. The Shabak arrested Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Tuama as he treid to enter Israel from Jordan via the Allenby Border Cross. Tuama was born in 1951 and is married with 8 children. Originally from Tul Karem, he has been residing in Saudi Arabia since the 1970’s. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1983 and joined Hamas as early as 1987 when the terror organization was established. He admitted to being a member of the Hamas General Shura Council headed by Khaled Mashal since 2008. The General Shura Council is Hamas’ supreme leadership entity that shapes the organizations overall policy, including its military strategy.
Tuama disclosed eye-opening insights to the organization’s methods of operation, financing and connections to other organizations.
He stipulated that Hamas is directly involved in the recent escalation of violence on the Temple Mount and is funding it. In recent months there has been a sharp increase in violence activity perpetrated by Arabs on the Temple Mount. In some of the cases Israeli police had to close the Mount to Jewish visitors as a result of the extreme hostility. Tuama stated that Hamas is behind the projects of the Islamic Movement Institution, ‘Omara al Aqsa’, which acts to prevent visits of Jews on the Temple Mount using an array of hundreds of activists who stay on the Temple Mount compound day and night. This institution was administratively closed in late 2013 by the Shabak and Israeli police due to the violent use Hamas and the Islamic Movement have made of this institution.
Tuama further revealed that Hamas is using the Islamic Movement in Israel as a front organization to promote its goals and activity in Jerusalem. He stated that Hamas is using the Islamic Movement in Israel for the transfer of funds to many projects in Jerusalem. For example, Hamas transfers funding to the Islamic Movement’s learning initiative on the Temple Mount; under the cover of religious studies, these youths stay day and night on the Mount only to be constantly present and prevent the arrival of Jews to the holy site. Hamas pays these youths a salary of 4000-5000 NIS per month. Tuama said that Hamas does not expose its links with the Islamic Movement and its members to avoid complications with the Israeli Authorities. In his assessment, there are clandestine links between Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement, and Hamas leadership. Salah is an Israeli citizen.
Tuama revealed Hamas’ sources of funds and their transfer to Israel. He was in charge of the audit committee in Hamas’ central leadership and said that until recently Hamas’ main source of funding was Iran. In the past year Iran has cut off Hamas’ funding and has created an economic crisis for them. At the same time, Hamas operates a series of civilian companies in charge of creating equity for the movement; most of these companies are located in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and deal especially with real estate. Tuama provided information on the Palestinian Business Forum (PBF), another dominant entity that Hamas is using to promote its economic interests. The Forum was founded by Hamas members and many of the Forum’s members are Hamas activists or identified with Hamas. PBF serves Hamas in public and information-related aspects as well. Tuama likewise divulged information on a series of international entities which are part of Hamas global funding array, such as entities in Saudi Arabia that receive donations from all over the world: ‘Al Quds International Institution and Union of Good’ headed by Yousef al Qardawi, one of Islam’s leading theologians. Tuama admitted that he suggested to the Hamas central leadership to transfer funds for Hamas activity in a covert fashion. He suggested, for instance, the buying and selling of real estate. In relation to this issue, he admitted that a few years ago he had transferred about 750,000 Rial under the guise of constructing a mosque in Tul Karem.
Regarding Hamas’ international connections and networking, Tuama said that eight representatives of world Muslim Brotherhood participate in Hamas Shura Council that determines Hamas’ policy and conducts its activity. Furthermore, Turkey and Qatar host Hamas HQs and its senior members; these countries have also received most of the prisoners relocated as part of the Schalit Swap Deal. These two countries provide Hamas with political, public and financial support.
Finally, relating to recent political development in the Palestinian Authority, Tuama said that Hamas signed the reconciliation agreement with the PA due to various constraints, and the signing does not reflect an ideological change. In this context, Tuama said that Hamas understands that in order to influence the PA policy, it has to be a PLO member since this is the body that determines the policy.
Tuama’s file was transferred to the Military Prosecution Service and he was indicted last week.