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Local Israeli Arab Official Suspected of Aiding Hamas

March 7, 1996
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israeli police have asked a Tel Aviv court to extend the custody of an Israeli Arab municipal official suspected to channeling funds to the Hamas fundamentalist movement.

Police issued the request Thursday, saying that they though that Suleiman Ahmed Agbaria, the deputy head of the local council in Um-el Fahum, had channeled more than $3 million from abroad to the families of suicide bombers.

Um-el-Fahm, Israel’s second largest Arab city, is one of several Arab municipalities run by the Islamic movement.

The court placed Agabria in custody for four days.

Agbaria heads an Islamic relief organization, which his defense maintained was only involved in charitable work.

The police request came a day after an Israeli Arab from northern Israel was arrested after being accused of smuggling from the Gaza Strip into Israel the terrorist who carried out Monday’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The name of the suspect was not released.

Meanwhile, Israeli police operating north of Jerusalem on Thursday closed down the Society of Islamic Science and Cultural Committee in Al Ram.

Police said the institution was a center for Hamas activities.

They said that when the 14-day closure order expires, they will seek another one, but for a one-year period.

Local residents said the center was an elementary school.

In another development, Internal Security Minister Moshe Shahal said Thursday in the Knesset that Israel had presented Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat with the name of the Hamas terrorist who had planned the suicide bombings of the past two weeks and that they were awaiting the terrorist’s arrest.

Israeli security officials said this week that they had uncovered the Hamas cell behind the Feb. 25 and March 3 terrorist bombings in Jerusalem and Ashkelon.

Officials revealed that members of the cell had operated at the Ramallah Teachers Training College in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

They said cell members were recruited and trained by a Hamas fugitive from the Gaza Strip who recruited them in Ramallah in February 1996 and instructed them to recruit youths who identified with Hamas and were prepared to carry out suicide attacks.

Earlier this week, the Palestinian Authority arrested a Palestinian who was charged with recruiting the three bombers suspected of carrying out the attacks in Jerusalem and Ashkelon.

Mohammed Abu Wardeh, a second-year student at the college in Ramallah, was sentenced Tuesday night by a court in the West Bank Jericho enclave to life in prison.

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