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In the Central Galilee: A Hamas Affiliate in Ein Mahel

An investigation by Hakol HaYehudi has exposed a teacher and activist of the outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement. Aside from playing soccer, teaching the Quran, and giving sermons at the mosque, he also operated a Hamas affiliate in the Galilee, and was asked to carry out an attack at a sensitive defense facility.

  • מערכת הקול-היהודי
  • י' אדר תשפ"ד - 16:15 19/02/2024
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The indictment filed last week against Rami Habiballah, a teacher from Ein Mahel in the Galilee, reveals how he aided Hamas and planned attacks during the war.

However, a HaKol HaYehudi investigation shows that he was also a leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which was outlawed by Israel in 2015.  

Even before the war, Hakol HaYehudi reported on the extremism from the village of Ein Mahel located near Nof Hagalil. Now this past Sunday,  the indictment against Rami Habiballah, accuses him of various terror offenses, including donating large sums of money to Hamas affiliated groups, planning attacks, and providing information to Hamas during wartime. Hakol HaYehudi’s investigation shows that Habiballah, a high school teacher in the village and an Imam at the local mosque, was simultaneously active in the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement led by Raad Salah.

The indictment against Rami Habiballah unveils the modus operandi wherein "civilian" activities are used to spread extremist Islamic teachings in accordance with the doctrines of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Ultimately, the civilian work is used to recruit young people into the organization such as through soccer clubs and other activities, raise money for the groups’ activities including through transfers to Hamas affiliates in Syria and Turkey, and even for coordinating attacks and carrying out terror operations.

In 2021, Habiballah established the "Al-Itaa Association for Society and Community," which according to the nonprofit’s goals was intended to “educate families, build community, develop children and youth programs, and prevent violence." According to the indictment, Habiballah traveled to Turkey in 2022 with a "humanitarian" delegation, where he met and collaborated with Hamas activists from the Hir Ummah nonprofit.

The activists included the Director of Hir Ummah, Abed Al-Jabal Shalabi, and Ibrahim al-Naji, both well-known Hamas activists according to the indictment. Further the indictment states that Habbiballah was aware that the two were Hamas activists, yet from 2021 onwards, he transferred hundreds of thousands of shekels raised from Ein Mahel residents to the Hamas affiliated group. The transfers to Hamas were made, among others, through a nonprofit Habbiballah formed and from charity raised in the Ein Mahel schools.

The indictment details the connections between the Islamic Movement in Israel and Hamas representatives in Jordan, Syria, and Turkey, as well as how the transfers were always stated to be for ‘humanitarian’ purposes, when in fact they went to Hamas affiliates and activists. According to the indictment, between 2014 and 2023, Habbiballah collected and sent around 10,000 NIS each month to Syria from funds raised in the village.  In 2021, Habbiballah began transferring to the Hamas-affiliated Hir Ummah, which would then transfer the funds onward to Syria.

In total, he moved over 360,000 NIS to Jordan and Turkey through currency exchanges with the understanding that the funds would then be transferred to Syria. In addition, during his arrest 270,000 NIS in cash was found, which was also intended to go to Syria as well as an additional 7,500 euros which was to go to Gaza.

Aside from his financing of terror, Habbiballah also led a youth group that studied the Quran, played soccer, and went camping in the forests near Nof Hagalil.  

Just a few days before the outbreak of the war, he led the "Islamic Calling in Ein Mahel” event, which has been held annually since the Northern Branch was outlawed.  Hundreds of residents of Ein Mahel attended the event and waived flags of the Islamic movement to commemorate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.  Members of the Northern Branch, including senior leader Hussam Abu Lail, a resident of Ein Mahel, participated in the event. Pictures from the event show Habbiballah’s influence among the community with numerous pictures of him with dozens of children, youth, and activists he recruited.

In addition, Habbiballah was photographed with many senior members of the Northern Branch, where it appears that he served as a central figure. He even represented the Ein Mahel delegation at the celebration for the release of Northern Branch chairman Raad Salah from prison.

Habbiballah, who is now charged with serious terror offenses, was often seen alongside the head of Ein Mahel, Ahmed Habbiballah, including when Rami Habbiballah led an event where Northern Branch Head Raad Salah was given an award by the village.

A few months ago at HaKol HaYehudi we highlighted the extremism of the Ein Mahel Council, and unveiled that the council website refers to the Galilee Mountains as part of Palestine and contains a page in memory of martyrs who were killed by ‘Zionist gangs.’  Following our report, the Interior Ministry froze the council's budgets, and the head of the council went to Jerusalem to apologize. The council head was photographed with Interior Ministry Director-General Ronen Peretz with an Israeli flag in the background. When looking at that photo side-by-side with the photo of him giving an award to Raad Salah with the indicted Rami Habbiballah at their side, one must question the sincerity of the apology in Jerusalem.

At HaKol HaYehudi we also exposed that the Naamat high school in Ein Mahel and other local schools held a "Palestinian Heritage" day, in which they learned about villages that Israel captured in the War of Independence and showed a map denying Israel's existence



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Likewise, we uncovered that a band from the village known for extremist and nationalist songs performed at local schools and even played at the community center in Nof HaGalil. 

The indictment against Rami Habbiballah describes how since the outbreak of the war, Habbiballah corresponded with al-Naji and offered his assistance to Hamas. Later, he photographed a highly secure Elbit factory near Nof Hagalil, and sent its location to al-Naji, asking if al-Naji could pass on the information to Hamas. Habbiballah also offered to recruit activists to carry out attacks, and planned a shooting attack in Jerusalem.

Several of the other activists that Habbiballah recruited to carry out attacks on behalf of Hamas were also known for their "civilian" activities in the village and their associations with the Northern Branch.

Following HaKol HaYehudi’s investigation, the Lavi organization filed a complaint with the Attorney General, demanding the dissolution of the Al-Itaa nonprofit due to their transferring of funds to Hamas affiliates. The complaint stated, “In light of the above, it is clear that the Al-Itaa Association for Society and Community in practice transfers funds to Hamas affiliates that are then used for terror and other activities in enemy states.”

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