Hamas activist Muhammad Murtaja, a Gaza resident and Turkish humanitarian charity (TİKA ) employee, was convicted Sunday as part of a plea bargain for transferring hundreds of thousands of shekels to Hamas.
Murtaja, who was arrested in 2017, pled guilty and was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for charges of membership in a terrorist organization, supporting a terrorist organization, using property for terrorist purposes and other offenses.
According to the amended indictment, which was filed in Be'er Sheva District Court by attorney Yoav Kishon of the Southern District Criminal Prosecutor's Office, during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Murtaja received funds from a Turkish humanitarian organization, which was intended for purchasing food packages for disadvantaged families.
As part of his job in the charity, Murtaja purchased food parcels and transferred some of them to impoverished families and some to Hamas operatives.
In addition, he raised about $80,000 and transferred it to Hamas activists for the construction of a swimming pool at the organization's post. The amended indictment also states that the Murtaja received NIS 11,000 from the Turkish terrorist organization IHH, and transferred it to Hamas for the purchase of military suits.
A group wedding at Haniyeh's request
Murtaja was also informed that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh asked the president of TİKA, to carry out a mass wedding of young Gaza couples.
Sometime later, a TİKA official who orked in Gaza and the West Bank asked for a list of grooms to be wed at the event and declared that a wedding for 2,000 couples in Gaza had been approved, with each groom receiving $2,000.
Murtaja informed Haniyeh's office of the matter and Hamas members were added to the list of grooms, so that at least half of the grooms were Hamas activists. The wedding took place at Yarmouk Stadium in Gaza City.
A representative of the State Prosecutor's Office said during the sentencing that "Napoleon says 'an army marches on its stomach.' The accused aided terrorist organizations and transferred food supplies to them, while activists of these organizations were fighting in the State of Israel. This is an unprecedented case."
The representative added: "We are used to arguing cases in which the residents of Gaza take part in terrorist organizations' military infrastructure, whether by planting bombs, commanding observation posts, or launching missiles. However, in this case we are dealing with a defendant who has sworn allegiance to Hamas since 2008. He did not take part in military activities, but terrorist organizations need food and supplies, without which they cannot exist."
The sentence states that "when serious offenses are committed with a purpose to ultimately harm Israel and its residents' security, the obligation to impose an appropriate sentence, which will discourage both the individual and large groups of people (from doing the same thing), is greater that the weight of the defendant's personal circumstances."
Murtaja's lawyers, Khaled Azberga and Ziad Abu Anam, claimed that "the Israeli analysis of the situation in the Gaza Strip is performed in laboratory conditions, but the reality in Gaza is different and difficult. We are facing a challenging humanitarian situation and at the end of the day, every organization in Gaza comes into contact with Hamas."