Senior Hamas official thanks Ra’am coalition agreement architect, additional Ra’am party member by name.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
The Islamist Ra’am party, headed by coalition kingmaker Mansour Abbas, made history in June as the first Arab party to join an Israeli government.
But according to Channel 13 News, the party may be making history again for all the wrong reasons – as the first Israeli political party in a ruling coalition to be linked to the terror group Hamas.
Too close for comfort?
Razi Issa, a native of Kfar Qassem and senior member of the party, stands just behind Abbas in a photo which shows the Ra’am leader signing the coalition agreement which catapulted now-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his partner, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, to power.
Issa is widely believed to be one of the most influential players in the party, with reports indicating that he was the driving force behind the negotiations and drafted much of the coalition agreement.
In a video from 2019 obtained by Channel 13, Issa is seen standing in the Gaza Strip before opening a local branch of the Islamic 48 Aid charity.
He said that he traveled to the enclave in order to “stand with our brothers, like we always do.” Dr. Ali Al-Kitnani, another senior Ra’am official, joined Issa for the trip.
Issa, who is ranked 15th on the party list and is also a member of the Islamic Shura Council of Israel, said he was excited to participate in a project which would help “orphans and people in need.”
Photographs and videos from the same trip show that Razi Hamed, a senior Hamas member, was present at the celebration marking the opening of the 48 Aid branch in Gaza, with Issa visible nearby.
At a later event, Hamed is seen praising the organization for its “huge work” and specifically thanking “internal Palestinians” — a term which refers to Arab Israelis – for their support.
He then thanks the Ra’am party members Issa and Al-Kitnani by name for their work in Aid 48.
Charity or pay-for-slay front?
When confronted by Channel 13’s Ayala Hasson regarding who exactly receives funding from the charity, Issa said that money was distributed strictly to “the needy.”
But Hasson noted that Aid 48’s homepage lists more nebulous aid recipients, such as “children of martyrs,” “widows” and “prisoners.”
This wording suggests that family members of terrorists, as well as terrorists in prison, are eligible for funding from the organization.
Hasson asked Issa why Hamas terrorist Hamed specifically thanked him for his involvement in Aid 48.
Issa demurred, but eventually said that “all Gaza gives thanks to those who donate for the needy and orphans.”
Aid 48 has multiple offices throughout Israel, including in Judea and Samaria. The organization’s Tulkarem branch in northern Israel is managed by Azhar Shahrur, the sister of the terrorist who committed the deadliest massacre during the second intifada – the 2002 Park Hotel bombing on Passover, which left 30 Israelis dead and more than 140 injured.
“We see the connection – both ideological and financial – between Ra’am and the Islamic movement in Israel, and Hamas, in Gaza and Judea and Samaria,” Boaz Kukia, the father of an IDF soldier slain in a 2017 terror attack, told Channel 13.
“It’s not a secret.”
Gilad Ach of the Ad Kan NGO told Channel 13 that “there’s a major, major financial link between the 48 Aid organization and Razi Issa, the architect of the coalition agreement, and Ra’am…and the State of Israel is giving this a hand.”
A complete denial
Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas strenuously denied the report’s veracity during an interview on Radio103 FM on Sunday morning.
“There is no connection between us and the Hamas movement,” he said.
When pressed as to why a member of the Ra’am party was photographed in the same room as a member of Hamas, Abbas responded that “you too can be [seen] with someone you do not know or have not invited.”
He said the Aid 48 organization is a legitimate NGO, which has “operated for 20 years, takes from the rich who donate and gives to the poor directly,” with funds exclusively given “to poor, orphaned and widowed citizens”
Abbas suggested that there is no way his party could maintain contacts with the terror group without the knowledge of the Jewish State’s security agencies.
“Does anyone want to tell us that the State of Israel is a banana republic, that there are no security organizations and law enforcement agencies?” he asked rhetorically.
Benjamin Netanyahu also courted Ra’am and its four Knesset seats before Abbas opted to join Bennett and Lapid.