Hamas convicts Palestinian peace activists for Zoom call with Israelis

Hamas has strictly forbidden Gaza residents from communicating with Israeli activists

An Israeli soldier walks on a road as his comrades sit inside a military jeep close to the site where Israel discovered a new cross-border tunnel from the Gaza Strip that its military said extended "dozens of metres underground" and into southern Israel, along the border with the Gaza Strip, southern Israel October 21, 2020. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
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Hamas in the Gaza Strip convicted three Palestinian peace activists for “weakening revolutionary spirit” by holding a Zoom call with Israeli peace campaigners, but the group ordered the release of two of the accused for having served six months in jail.

Hamas arrested Rami Aman, 39, and seven other activists in April after the conference call, describing it as “treason”.

Such grassroots dialogue between Israelis and Gazans is rare.

While five of the activists were released within days of being arrested, Gaza military prosecutors charged Mr Aman and two others with aiding Israel and ordered them jailed until their trial. One of the three was granted bail in July.

A Hamas-run military court on Monday convicted all three of “weakening revolutionary spirit” but ordered authorities to release Mr Aman and the other campaigner who had remained in jail.

Speaking to Reuters after his release, Mr Aman said he had told the court he was not calling for a normalisation of ties with Israel.

“I call for a just and comprehensive peace, and believe that as long as there is occupation, there will be resistance,” Mr Aman said, referring to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza.

Hamas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.