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April 10, 2020 8:14 am

Hamas Arrests Palestinians in Gaza for Zoom Video Chat With Israelis

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Palestinian police officers loyal to Hamas march during a graduation ceremony in Gaza City, April 29, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

Hamas arrested a Palestinian in Gaza on Thursday, saying that he had taken part in a video conference with Israelis and describing his act as “treason.”

The Gaza interior ministry identified the man as Rami Aman and said that some of his associates, whose details were not disclosed, had also been arrested.

Aman describes himself as a freelance journalist and member of a group called the Gaza Youth Committee on his Facebook page. The meeting for which he was arrested was held on Monday on the Zoom video conference app. It appears to have been organized by Israeli peace activists, who could not be reached for comment.

An invitation link to a Zoom conference entitled “Meet Gazan Activists” was posted on a Facebook event page that has since expired. It read: “Finally, an opportunity to speak with Gazans who not only do not hate us but are working tirelessly to open channel of communication between Gazans and Israelis.”

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It also named Rami Aman and his group as participants.

“Holding any activity or any contact with the Israeli occupation under any cover is a crime punishable by law and is treason to our people and their sacrifices,” Interior Ministry spokesman Eyad al-Bozom said in a statement.

Aman’s family could not be reached for comment and two Gaza-based human rights groups contacted by Reuters said they have not been approached by relatives over his arrest.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 and has since fought three wars with Israel. Flare-ups along the shared border are relatively frequent. Israel regards Hamas as a terrorist group and keeps Gaza under blockade, saying its aim is to stop weapons from reaching militant groups.

Coronavirus lockdowns have driven a surge in the usage of Zoom in recent weeks because it is free, and users are attracted by its ease of use. But concerns have grown over its lack of end-to-end encryption of meeting sessions, routing of traffic through China and “zoombombing,” when uninvited guests crash meetings.

The incident triggered angry comments on social media by Palestinians in Gaza, with many praising Aman’s arrest.

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