Israel arrests Palestinian footballer for aiding Hamas

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A Palestinian soccer player was arrested on charges of meeting with a Hamas militant in Qatar in April and helping with delivering money to the group's operatives in the West Bank, the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, announced on Wednesday.

A Shin Bet statement identified the suspect as 22-year-old Samah Fares Mahmad Marava, a resident of Kalkilya and a member of the Palestinian national soccer team.

It said that on April 15 he traveled with his team on a soccer tour abroad that included Qatar, where he met with Talal Ibrahim Abd al-Rahman Sarim, a militant who previously served a life sentence in Israel, but was released and deported as part of a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas in 2011.

The suspect told Shin Bet interrogators that prior to leaving for Qatar he was approached by a senior Hamas operative in Kalkilya and asked to meet with Sarim, who had rejoined Hamas' military wing after arriving in Qatar, and has been involved in directing its operations in the West Bank, the statement said.

According to his interrogation, the footballer confessed that in Qatar he met for a number of times with the Hamas man, and was asked to deliver some money, a cell phone and written messages back to the group's operatives in Kalkilya.

He covered up those meetings from his teammates and the team's management, as instructed, the Shin Bet said.

"Marava was well aware that he was meeting with a Hamas man and performing a service for the group," said the intelligence agency, noting that the player had "cynically exploited" the sports visa he was issued to assist Hamas field operations.

The Shin Bet said it apprehended Marava upon the team's return to Israel on April 28. Muad Yusef Hassan Sarim, a senior Hamas operative from Kalkilya, was nabbed on May 21.

The agency also said it provided the army with sufficient evidence to indict the two men in a military tribunal. Endi

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