RAMALLAH, February 8 (JMCC) - Israeli officials indicted two Palestinian parliamentarians in a Jerusalem court Tuesday, reports the Jerusalem Post
Khaled Abu Arafeh and Mohammed Totah were indicted for membership in an outlawed organization and living illegally in Israel. The two were arrested in late January in a raid on the offices of the International Committee for the Red Cross, where they had sought shelter for 18 months to avoid being deported from Jerusalem.
The men had been staying in the building with Hamas legislator Ahmad Attoun, who was arrested last year, and Muhammed Abu Tir, who was arrested in 2010.
Abu-Arafa and Totah were elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council as representatives of Hamas in 2006. Interior Minister Eli Yishai revoked the men’s residency cards last spring, after the politicians refused to renounce their ties to Hamas.
Attoun, Abu-Arafa and Totah held blue identification cards, which gave them Israeli residency but not citizenship.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) required them to leave the country by June 30, 2010, following an unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court to freeze the Interior Ministry’s decision.
Their sit-in at the Red Cross compound began July 1, 2010.
According to the indictment, the men held frequent strategy meetings with other Hamas politicians and met with international leaders, distributed propaganda, and held regular Friday prayers with large crowds at their protest tent, erected in the courtyard of the Red Cross building.
The Red Cross does not have political immunity, and a spokeswoman for the Red Cross said last year the police was immediately aware of the men’s decision to erect a protest tent on its property. Totah and Abu- Arafa are accused of membership in a terrorist organization, support of a terrorist organization and illegal residency. Authorities are asking they be kept in detention until the end of their trial. They will have a remand hearing in the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday.