Militant Hamas criticizes Saudi trials of members, backers

March 9, 2020 GMT

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Monday criticized the secretive criminal trials in Saudi Arabia of dozens of members and supporters of the militant Palestinian group.

The group, which rules the Gaza Strip, said Saudi authorities detained dozens of “the best of and the most elite of the Palestinian people residing in Saudi Arabia.”

A popular account on Twitter focused on the arrests and trials of dissidents reported that the Saudi government is conducting the trials before the Specialized Criminal Court, a secretive tribunal established to try terrorism cases.

The arrests intensified in 2019 and there has been no official comment from the Saudi government on either the arrests or the trials.


Ties have not been warm between Hamas, an offshoot of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood, and Saudi Arabia in recent years. The Palestinian group relies more on Saudi’s regional rival Iran for funds, weapons and expertise.

Hamas says the detainees, among them some Jordanians, were held for “supporting the Palestinian cause.” Earlier, a Hamas official explained that this means raising funds and soliciting donations.

In January, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Tehran to attend the funeral of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq. The move could explain the expedition of the trials of Hamas’ supporters in Saudi Arabia.