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Hamas fugitive who ‘ran terror group’s operations in the West Bank’ lives in council property in North London borough home to roughly fifth of UK’s Jewish community, report reveals


A Hamas fugitive who ‘ran the group’s terrorist operations in the West Bank’ lives in a council property in a North London borough that is home to roughly a fifth of the UK’s Jewish community, a report has revealed.

Muhammad Qassem Sawalha, 62, who served on Hamas’s ruling body, managed to steer clear of Israel’s security services using a relative’s passport and left for the UK in the 1990s, before later gaining British citizenship, The Times reports.

In the UK, Sawalha continued to work for Hamas. He held secret discussions about ‘revitalising’ terrorist acts in Israel and helping to launder money to fund activities in the West Bank and Gaza, according to a US Department of Justice indictment in 2004.

In 2003, the father of four became a council tenant at a two-storey home with a garage and a garden in Colindale, in the north London borough of Barnet, where he lives with his 56-year-old wife Sawsan.

Some 56,616 Jews – roughly a fifth of the community’s UK population – live in the borough of Barnet, the highest Jewish population of any in Britain, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Muhammad Qassem Sawalha, 62, who served on Hamas's ruling body, managed to steer clear of Israel's security services using a relative's passport and left for the UK in the 1990s, before later gaining British citizenship, according to a report

Muhammad Qassem Sawalha, 62, who served on Hamas’s ruling body, managed to steer clear of Israel’s security services using a relative’s passport and left for the UK in the 1990s, before later gaining British citizenship, according to a report

The address is within a 10-minute drive of two synagogues.

In 2019, Sawalha met Vladimir Putin’s deputy foreign minister at an official Hamas delegation to Moscow. He served on Hamas’s politburo from 2013 to 2017 and he was pictured with the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, in 2010 and 2012.

In 2009, Sawalha signed a declaration that commended Allah for having ‘routed the Zionist Jews’, made a plea for weapons to be sent to Gaza, and demanded a ‘Third Jihadist Front’ be set up in Palestine, alongside Afghanistan and Iraq.

Israel’s defence ministry has officially designated Sawalha as belonging to Hamas and he will face arrest should he return.

Despite his controversial activities, Sawalha was granted a British passport in the early Noughties. Home Office guidance states that anyone who ‘incites, justifies or glorifies’ terrorist violence or ‘seeks to provoke others to terrorist acts’ will be denied citizenship under ordinary circumstances.

Sawalha has never been charged with crimes in the UK. 

Grabs from Reuters video: Footage shows fighters training ahead of Hamas' operation into Israel

Grabs from Reuters video: Footage shows fighters training ahead of Hamas’ operation into Israel

Grabs from Reuters video: Footage shows fighters training ahead of Hamas' operation into Israel

Grabs from Reuters video: Footage shows fighters training ahead of Hamas’ operation into Israel

Tens of thousands people took to the streets of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Belfast and Cardiff on Saturday in protest as they defended the rights of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank following the violent response to horrific Hamas terror attacks launched on Israel earlier this month.

Around 1,000 Met Police officers are on duty to monitor events in the capital after a similar event last week saw a large crowd turn out in solidarity with Palestinians trapped in the Gaza strip.

Marchers held signs reading ‘Freedom for Palestine’ and ‘Stop Bombing Gaza’ and ‘End Israeli Apartheid’. 

Participants called for an end to Israel’s blockade and airstrikes launched in the wake of a brutal incursion into southern Israel by the Hamas terrorist group that controls Gaza.

The border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opened on Saturday to let a trickle of desperately needed aid into the besieged Palestinian territory for the first time since Israel sealed it off following Hamas’ bloody rampage two weeks ago.

Just 20 trucks were allowed in, an amount aid workers said was insufficient to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis. More than 200 trucks carrying 3,000 tonnes of aid have been waiting nearby for days.

Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, half of whom have fled their homes, are rationing food and drinking dirty water. 

Smoke rises as the Israeli airstrikes continue on its 15th day in Beit Hanoun, Gaza on October 21, 2023

Smoke rises as the Israeli airstrikes continue on its 15th day in Beit Hanoun, Gaza on October 21, 2023

This aerial view shows humanitarian aid trucks arriving from Egypt after having crossed through the Rafah border crossing arriving at a storage facility in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023

This aerial view shows humanitarian aid trucks arriving from Egypt after having crossed through the Rafah border crossing arriving at a storage facility in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023

Hospitals say they are running low on medical supplies and fuel for emergency generators amid a territory-wide power blackout. 

Five hospitals have stopped functioning because of fuel shortages and bombing damage, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said.

Israel says Hamas has freed two American hostages who had been held in Gaza since the war began on October 7 but is still holding at least 210 hostages. 

Israel is still launching waves of airstrikes across Gaza as Palestine fires rockets back.

Israel’s military spokesman said the country planned to step up its attacks starting on Saturday as preparation for the next stage of its war on Hamas. 

Asked about a possible ground invasion, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters that the military was trying to create optimal conditions beforehand.

‘We will deepen our attacks to minimise the dangers to our forces in the next stages of the war. We are going to increase the attacks, from today,’ Hagari said, repeating his call for residents of Gaza City to head south for their safety.

There are growing expectations of a ground offensive that Israel says would be aimed at rooting out Hamas. 

Israel said on Friday that it does not plan to take long-term control over the small but densely populated Palestinian territory. 

An Israeli ground assault would likely lead to a dramatic escalation in casualties on both sides in urban fighting.

The war, which entered its 15th day on Saturday, is the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. 

The Gaza Health Ministry said on Saturday that the death toll has reached 4,385, while 13,561 people have been wounded.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly in the initial attack on October 7. 



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