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Copenhagen/Berlin: Seven people, including four suspected Hamas members, have been arrested in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands on suspicion of planning attacks on Jewish institutions in Europe, authorities in the three countries say.
The arrests were made as Israel pressed on with its operation to destroy Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a war that was touched off by a cross-border October 7 assault on Israeli towns by militants of the Palestinian Islamist movement.
Senior police inspector and head of emergency services in Copenhagen Police Peter Dahl speaks to the media on the arrests.Credit: AP
Three of the suspects were detained in Berlin and another was detained in the Netherlands, all four longstanding members of Hamas with close links to the leadership of Hamas’ military branch, German prosecutors said in a statement.
A Hamas official denied those held were connected to the group.
Three people arrested in Denmark would be charged under the terrorism clause of the criminal code and put in front of a judge for preliminary questioning, police said. It was not clear if there was a link between the arrests in Denmark and those in Germany and the Netherlands.
Dutch national Nazih R was arrested by police in Rotterdam, while Lebanon-born Abdelhamid Al A and Ibrahim El-R, as well as Egyptian national Mohamed B, were arrested in the German capital, German prosecutors said.
Abdelhamid Al A had been assigned by Hamas leaders in Lebanon with finding sources for weapons, prosecutors said. The weapons were due to be taken to Berlin and kept ready for potential terrorist attacks against Jewish institutions, prosecutors said.
“Following the terrible attacks by Hamas on the Israeli population, attacks on Jews in Jewish institutions have also increased in our country in recent weeks,” German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said in a statement on the detentions.
“We must therefore do everything we can to ensure that Jews in our country do not have to fear for their safety again.”
Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters: “We deny there are members of Hamas detained in Denmark, Germany, or any other European country. Publishing these allegations aims to influence the mass rallies that are supportive of Palestine in Europe.”
Dutch police said they had arrested a 57-year-old man in Rotterdam at the request of German authorities in a Danish-German investigation.
Israel’s Mossad spy agency said Denmark had exposed “Hamas infrastructure on European soil,” a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.
The Danish police and intelligence service were not immediately available for comment on the Israeli statement. The justice ministry declined to comment.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was quoted by Ritzau news agency as saying: “It is of course – in relation to Israel and Gaza – completely unacceptable for someone to bring a conflict elsewhere in the world into Danish society.”
Danish police said Thursday’s raids followed investigations made in close cooperation with partners abroad, which had revealed a network of people preparing a terrorist attack.
Police said they would increase their public presence in coming days, in particular in Copenhagen and around Jewish localities. The Jewish Community in Denmark said it had been briefed about the raids but did not have any knowledge about actual threats to Jewish targets.
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