GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Security forces led by Hamas have arrested several peace activists in the Gaza Strip for treason after attending a web conference with Israeli activists.
The Interior Ministry, headed by Hamas, said the activists were accused of “carrying out normalization activities with the Israeli occupation.”
“Keeping any activity or contact with the Israeli occupation under any cover is a criminal crime and a betrayal of people and their victims,” the statement said.
Hamas, which captured Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007, does not recognize Israel and has carried out numerous attacks against Israelis in recent decades. Israel, the United States and the EU consider Hamas a terrorist organization.
Nonetheless, Hamas has been holding indirect talks with Israel for months through mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the United States. The negotiations are aimed at easing an Israeli and Egyptian blockade against Gaza after Hamas took power in exchange for peace along the border.
The activists held an almost two-hour meeting on Monday via Zoom, an online conferencing service, to discuss issues of common concern, including the coronavirus pandemic.
The meeting was promoted on a Facebook event page and a recording was posted online by Israeli participants, which led to an expansion of the Palestinian instigation against Gaza activists on social media.
The family of Rami Aman, the main organizer, said he replied to a summons from the security service early Thursday and hasn’t heard from him since.
Hamas praised the arrests.
“The relationship with the Zionist occupation is only an ongoing struggle until it is driven out of all Palestinian countries,” spokesman Hazem Qassem said.