East Jerusalem lawyers jailed for acting as Hamas messengers

Brother and sister Medhat and Shireen Issawi to be imprisoned for eight and four years, respectively

A guard is seen in an Israeli prison holding Palestinian prisoners (Moshe Shai/Flash90/File)
A guard is seen in an Israeli prison holding Palestinian prisoners (Moshe Shai/Flash90/File)

Two East Jerusalem lawyers were handed prison sentences on Monday for relaying messages between Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza and security detainees in Israeli prisons.

Medhat Issawi, 42, and his sister Shireen Issawi, 37, were sentenced to eight and four years, respectively, by the Jerusalem District Court.

They were charged in 2014 for conveying messages to terrorists in prison, and were arrested along with four other attorneys earlier that year by the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police.

They two, who have a law practice in the city’s Isawiya neighborhood, are accused of taking advantage of lawyer-client confidentiality permitted by Israeli authorities to act as couriers between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Palestinians incarcerated by Israel.

The lawyers allegedly transmitted instructions for hunger strikes and details of prisoner releases, and were paid NIS 500-700 ($144-$200) per message. Some of the communications were conveyed to Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives abroad.

The messages included details related to the finances of running Gaza organizations, the logistics of hunger strikes, identifying which prisoners were to be released in the Gilad Shalit deal, and organizing support for Khaled Mashaal to lead Hamas.

Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas during a raid into Israel in 2006, was eventually released in 2011 in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

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