East Jerusalem man indicted for setting up Hamas kindergarten and soup kitchen

Prosecutors accuse Bilal Sub Laban of working to strengthen the terror group’s influence in capital

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

People hold Hamas flags as Palestinians gather at the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, May 7, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)
People hold Hamas flags as Palestinians gather at the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, May 7, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

A Palestinian man was indicted on Monday for allegedly establishing a kindergarten and a soup kitchen on orders from Hamas, in order to strengthen the terror group’s influence in East Jerusalem, the Justice Ministry said.

According to the indictment, Bilal Sub Laban, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood Kafr Aqab, met in Turkey in March with a Hamas operative who instructed him to “advance Hamas activity” in the city.

He was instructed to establish a kindergarten, a soup kitchen, and a nonprofit organization used to embezzle funds for the terror group, recruit members and hand out Palestinian flags, the indictment said.

Laban also met with Turkish tourists on the Temple Mount in June and collected money from them for Hamas, according to the indictment.

Laban was arrested on June 28, and some $13,000 was seized. He is charged with membership in a terror organization, using funds for terror, and obstruction of justice.

Laban’s contact in Turkey, Fahad Shlodi, was deported to Turkey as a condition of his release as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal in 2011. He had been serving two life sentences in an Israeli prison for murder and attempted murder.

Illustrative: Cash confiscated from an East Jerusalem charity, with alleged ties to Hamas, in February 2022. (Israel Police)

As part of his activities, Laban also collected a list of Hamas sympathizers in Jerusalem and brought them to Shlodi during a second visit to Turkey.

According to the indictment, Laban told his contact during the trip that he was “not interested in assisting military activities” of the terror group, and instead contributed by collecting funds and recruitment.

Police revealed on Monday that a total of nine East Jerusalem suspects were arrested in recent weeks over Hamas affiliation and attempts to recruit new members.

In March, four residents of East Jerusalem were also indicted over alleged ties to Hamas and meeting with officials of the group in Turkey, with police prosecutors charging some with having planned terrorist attacks.

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