Two law office managers and four lawyers from Isawiya in East Jerusalem were arrested on suspicion of abusing their attorney-client privilege, passing messages between Hamas prisoners and the organization's operatives in Israel and abroad, and paying lawyers to visit the prisoners.
They were arrested following an investigation by Jerusalem District police, with the cooperation of the Shin Bet.
Allegedly, the lawyers visited the prisons for three years, met with senior prisoners, and passed the jailed Hamas members messages about the organization's military operations, as well as directives related to political topics and hunger-strike efforts. The lawyers also transferred funds for the prisoners.
Police claim that one of the letters contained messages from the organization's explosives expert which directed terrorists outside the prison how to operate and execute a number of attack plots. Police also said that some of the messages dealt with ways to handle collaborators with Israel.
After receiving the initial information, the police launched an undercover investigation which lasted several months, during that time detectives gathered intelligence on the establishment of an "Al-Quds office for legal affairs" whose employees were potential suspects.
The office was run by siblings from East Jerusalem, 41-year-old Medhat Issawi and 36-year-old Shireen Issawi. According to the allegations, during visits with the prisoners they would present them with printed "letters" containing messages from senior Hamas operatives, and then pass information from the prisoners to the organization's agents in Gaza and abroad.
The lawyers were paid between 500 and 700 shekels per visit.
The "letters" allowed Hamas to determine which prisoners would be released in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, which relied on coordination with Abbas al-Sayed, the jailed prisoners' leader serving time for a terrorist attack on the Park hotel.
The financial dealings of Hamas, the planning of general hunger strikes by Hamas members across the prison system, and the transferring of messages through programs on Palestinian television, were discussed in the "letters" passed by the lawyers.
The head of the investigation unit in Jerusalem said that "this method allowed Hamas to continue operating as usual, even while senior operatives continued to serve their jail sentences."
Medhat Issawi claimed during his interrogation that the office operates legally and the messages passed between the prisoners were greetings to family members.
Shireen Issawi denied all wrongdoing attributed to her, while the other lawyers confessed working for the "Al-Quds" legal office and taking part of the prison visits, including their role in passing messages.
An indictment against them, for participating in terror activities and for criminal conspiracy, will be filed with the court in the coming days.