While the Jerusalem police have finally expelled imprisoned Hamas leader Muhammad Abu Tir from Jerusalem to Ramallah after months of hesitation, they continue to allow 3 other fugitive terrorists to remain barricaded in a Red Cross office in the capital. Shurat HaDin is urging the police to storm the building and seize the wanted Hamas men as the law requires.
The story began in 2006, when the Israeli Ministry of the Interior ordered four senior Hamas officials who had been living in Jerusalem to be expelled from the country. The four members of the Islamic extremist group, had been elected as Hamas representatives to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) that January. Israel gave them 30 days to either resign from the PLC or be deported.
Predictably, the terrorists, Mohamed Abu Tir, Ahmed Attoun, Mohammed Totah and Khaled Abu Arafeh, scampered off to petition Israel’s High Court to appeal the deportation orders. The fact that they do not recognize the Jewish State nor any of its government agencies didn’t deter the four one bit. At the court hearing, they argued to the justices that they had been born in Jerusalem and despite their leadership positions in Hamas, they could not be deported as Israeli law was not controlling in “occupied East Jerusalem.”
Shurat HaDin filed a motion to the High Court and was granted the right to join the case on the side of the government which was seeking to drive the terrorists from Jerusalem.
Shortly after the deportation order was given, however, IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in Gaza and Israel placed the four Hamas leaders and others in detention. In a second hearing before the High Court, the four terrorists argued that they should not be deported because as incarcerated prisoners, de facto, they do not fulfill any official position in the PLC on behalf of Hamas and there was no rationale to expel them.
In the light of these new circumstances, the High Court suggested to the terrorists that they re-apply to the Ministry for their residency permit. They did and the Ministry promptly rejected their request. The High Court set a new hearing on the matter for this past September.
On May 20, 2010, however, the four were freed from prison. They were told by Israeli authorities that they now had one month to leave Jerusalem. The four then filed a motion in the High Court for a restraining order barring Israel from deporting them until the September court hearing. The Government then offered the terrorist an opportunity to stay in Israel until the September hearing provided that they renounce their positions in the PLC, recognize the State of Israel and vow not to work on behalf of Hamas.
Shurat HaDin vehemently opposed the Government’s offer to the four. The High Court denied their motion and, in any event, the terrorists refused to sign the renunciation. In July the Israeli police finally arrested Abu Tir again for violating the deportation orders. The other three terrorists, Attoun, Totah and Abu Arafeh all then fled to the Jerusalem Red Cross office and sought asylum there. The Israeli police fearful of creating an international incident by forcefully entering the Red Cross and seizing the fugitives have allowed them to remain barricaded inside for months.
Last week, the Jerusalem court finally ruled that Abu Tir’s presence in Jerusalem was illegal. The police took him from prison and transported him to the Beitunia crossing into Ramallah. Abu Tir still has, however, an appeal pending before the High Court which challenges the legality of the expulsion order. At the same time that these four terrorists remain outside of prison, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit remains kidnapped by Hamas.
Shurat HaDin is demanding that the Israeli police put an immediate end to this blatant violation of the law and seize the Hamas fugitives by force if necessary. In what other situation would the Israeli police not enter a building where wanted men are hiding and take them into custody? What type of sovereignty does Israel have over Jerusalem if it is so fearful of the UN and the Red Cross that it is afraid to enforce lawful arrest warrants in its own capital?