Police arrest sister of Hamas leader Haniyeh in southern Israel raid

Suspect, an Israeli citizen who lives in the country, accused of ‘serious security offenses’; evidence reportedly shows support for terror group’s October 7 massacre

A picture of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh found during a raid on the home of his sister, who lives in the southern community of Tel Sheva, April 1, 2024. (Israel Police)
A picture of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh found during a raid on the home of his sister, who lives in the southern community of Tel Sheva, April 1, 2024. (Israel Police)

A sister of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has been arrested on suspicion of contact with operatives from the terror group and supporting acts of terror, defense sources said Monday.

Israel Police said in a statement that it had arrested a 57-year-old woman who is “a relative of a senior member of Hamas” in a joint raid with the Shin Bet that was dubbed “Early Dawn.”

The statement did not identify the suspect, saying only she was a resident of the southern town of Tel Sheva, where the raid took place.

However, defense sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the woman is one of Haniyeh’s sisters.

Police later identified the suspect as Sabah Avad al-Salam Haniyeh, Channel 12 reported.

The development came amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas that opened with the terror group’s massive October 7 cross-border attack on Israel in which terrorists killed some 1,200 people amid horrific atrocities.

Police carrying out a raid in Tel Sheva, April 1, 2024 (Israel Police)

Police said that during a raid on the suspect’s home, officers found documents, media, telephones, and other evidence linking her to “serious security offenses.”

The statement noted she will appear at the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court later Monday for a hearing on her detention.

Among the evidence reportedly uncovered was material that showed support for the October 7 massacre and encouraged terror operatives in the Gaza Strip to continue their activities.

Police also found hundreds of thousands of shekels in cash at the premises.

Southern District commander Superintendent Amir Cohen vowed that his forces “will use all the means and tools at its disposal, everywhere, in order to create deterrence at the same time as thwarting terrorist attacks, with the aim of ensuring the safety and security of the citizens of Israel,” according to the statement.

Israel responded to the Hamas attack with a military campaign to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza, destroy the terror group’s presence there, and free 253 hostages who were abducted from Israel during the October 7 assault.

Haniyeh, the Hamas political leader, lives in exile in Doha, Qatar. His three sisters live in Tel Sheva and were married to Arab Israelis. Two are now widowed and have fallen foul of Israeli authorities in the past by making illegal trips into Gaza in 2013 via Egypt. They were both given eight-month suspended sentences for the visits in 2015. Later that year, Israel denied Haniyeh’s request that his sisters be permitted to attend his son’s wedding in Gaza.

The three sisters all have Israeli citizenship and according to a 2006 report from the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, some of their children have served in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Ismail Haniyeh, the Doha-based political bureau chief of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, speaks to the press after a meeting with the Iranian foreign minister in Tehran on March 26, 2024 (AFP)

For years, even at times of heightened tensions, Israel has taken in Gazan patients for medical care. Permits are granted based on security and health considerations and are usually given to cases in dire and life-threatening conditions.

This policy has meant that family members of Hamas leaders have also received medical treatments in the Jewish state. Haniyeh himself has seen his niece, mother-in-law, daughter, and granddaughter all treated in Israeli hospitals.

In 2014, Haniyeh’s daughter was hospitalized at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital for “a number of days,” according to a hospital spokesman at the time. The hospital did not disclose her medical condition, but Reuters reported that the treatment followed complications during a standard medical procedure she had undergone in Gaza.

In June 2014, Haniyeh’s 68-year-old mother-in-law was treated in Augusta Victoria Hospital, near Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.

In November 2013, Haniyeh’s 1-year-old granddaughter received treatment in Israel for an infection in her digestive tract. She was taken to an Israeli hospital in critical condition, but was returned to her family in Gaza after her condition was deemed incurable, an Israeli military spokesman said. The girl later died of her condition.

In February, Channel 13 reported that one of Haniyeh’s nieces gave birth at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

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