- Saudi Arabia began a public trial of dozens of Hamas members accused of collecting and laundering funds for Hamas’ military arm in the Gaza Strip.
- This is a significant course of action that indicates that Saudi Arabia’s outright support for the United States and Israel in the war on terror.
In Saudi Arabia, the trial of 68 Hamas members has begun. They were arrested in April 2019 in Saudi Arabia; most of the members were Palestinians from the Palestinian territories who immigrated to Saudi Arabia, and some of them were Jordanian civilians.
Hamas officials claim the accused members were tortured in two of the jails where they were held in Riyadh and Jeddah.
This is a lengthy trial that will last for several months. The trial is being held publicly, and Saudi authorities have permitted members of the accused’s families to be present at the first hearing.
Among the accused are students, academics, and businessmen who have been held in solitary confinement in recent months without the possibility of meeting with lawyers or their families. Their funds held in their Saudi bank accounts have been confiscated by the authorities.
Among those pending trial are Mohammed al-Khodari, an 81-year-old doctor, and his son Hani. Mohammed al-Khodari has been Hamas’ official representative in Saudi Arabia since 1988, before which he was a military hospital director in Kuwait and held the rank of colonel in the Kuwaiti army.
The public trial of Hamas members in Saudi Arabia is enraging Hamas activists in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and among Hamas supporters throughout the Arab world.
During the first court hearing, the charges against them were enumerated, and the Hamas activists arrested in Saudi Arabia were accused of belonging to a “terrorist entity” and “supporting and financing a terrorist organization.”
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem condemned Saudi Arabia’s behavior towards the accused and called for their release immediately.
“It is inconceivable to prosecute Palestinian leaders in an Arab state on charges that relate to the Palestinian problem and in support of their legitimate struggle. The patriotic and Arab duty requires support for the Palestinian resistance and support the Palestinian opposition against the American ‘Deal of the Century,’ whose goal is the elimination of the Palestinian problem,” said Qassem.
The public trial of Hamas activists in Saudi Arabia represents the depth of the rift created between Saudi Arabia and Hamas.
According to Hamas sources, behind these Saudi arrests against Hamas stands the United States and Israel, and arrests were made at U.S. and Israeli behest.
Saudi Arabia transmitted intelligence that dozens of Hamas activists were engaged in collecting and laundering money for the Hamas military arm and terrorist activity against Israel. The money raised was then transferred to Turkey and from there to the Gaza Strip.
Last September, the United States imposed sanctions on two money-exchange companies in Turkey that helped Hamas transfer the money from Saudi Arabia to the Gaza Strip.
Hamas officials say the trial is indicative of Saudi Arabia’s approach to normalization and is also intended to please the United States.
The “golden age” between Hamas and Saudi Arabia began in 1988 during the first intifada and shortly after Hamas was established by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Hamas opened an official office in Riyadh headed by Mohammed al-Khodari, who is currently on trial.
In 1998, King Fahd hosted Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and allowed him to raise funds in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Hamas.
The Saudi-Hamas rift began in 2007 after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip and expelled the PA from it.
The Islamic holy city of Mecca served as the first meeting point for reconciliation between Hamas and the PA. Hamas leader Khaled Mashal and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met near the Kaaba in Mecca a few months after the PA was expelled from the Gaza Strip. They signed a reconciliation agreement that did not come to fruition, an incident that embarrassed Saudi Arabia. The Saudis blame Hamas for violating the reconciliation agreement.
President Trump’s entry into the White House and the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who became Saudi Arabia’s “strong man,” have only further aggravated the situation of the Hamas, who in the eyes of the Saudis is a “terrorist organization.”
Saudi Arabia adopted President Trump’s position in 2017, declaring Hamas a “terrorist organization.”
Saudi authorities have rejected all Hamas’ attempts to release the detainees. Hamas appealed to international officials and senior figures in the Islamic world to intervene on behalf of the detainees, but to no avail.
Saudi activity against the Hamas movement is noteworthy and intended to dry up the sources of funding for Hamas. Saudi Arabia’s disregard for Hamas’ requests to release the detainees and the fact that it turned to a public trial indicates complete agreement with the United States and Israel on the war on terror.
Saudi Arabia is attempting to send a message to Hamas about Saudi Arabia’s opposition to terrorism through the public trial against Hamas activists, while Hamas considers it a national humiliation and a surrender by Saudi Arabia to U.S. and Israeli pressure.
Hamas officials say the Saudi royal government will do everything to maintain its rule and that the Saudi desire to help the United States and Israel against the Iranian threat which is pushing Saudi Arabia to turn its back on the “leading” Palestinian resistance movement.