Hamas military prosecutors on Thursday charged three Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip with “weakening revolutionary spirit” — a charge that could lead to years in prison — for holding a video conference with Israelis.
Rami Aman, a 38-year-old peace activist and Gaza resident, was detained in early April after holding a public “Skype With Your Enemy” video call in which Israelis participated. He has said his organization seeks to empower young Palestinians and that many in Gaza share his view that speaking to Israelis should not be forbidden.
“If I were to go into the streets and tell people ‘let’s talk with an Israeli,’ thousands of people would be here,” Aman said during the videoconference, which was conducted in English.
According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, which is providing legal representation to the defendants, Aman was arrested shortly after the call, along with seven colleagues who also allegedly took part. Five of them were subsequently released.
The activists are members of the Gaza Youth Committee, an organization that sponsors peace-building initiatives. Before Aman’s arrest, the group become a member of the Alliance for Middle East Peace, a coalition of Israeli and Arab nonprofit organizations.
Authorities in Gaza, which is controlled by the Hamas terror group, view “normalizing” with Israelis as a criminal offense. While Hamas does permit merchants and those seeking humanitarian assistance inside Israel to communicate with Israeli authorities, it has cracked down on those who have sought to establish person-to-person ties with Israelis.
Read More: Times of Israel