Int'l Red Cross Sheltering Hamas Terrorist Officials

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Hamas officials are praising Wednesday's deadly bombing of a bus station in Jerusalem -- a city they've vowed to conquer.

Jerusalem is also a place where wanted Hamas members have found safe haven from Israeli authorities -- and they're getting help from one of the world's leading humanitarian organizations.

Although Hamas's main headquarters can be found in Gaza and Damascus, over the past several months, three officials from the terror group have also set up shop at the International Red Cross office in East Jerusalem.

Israel suspects these three Hamas legislators had a role in the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. It ordered them to be deported from Jerusalem last summer.

Instead, the three found refuge at the Red Cross, where they've set up a tent and held court on a daily basis, with no protest from their hosts.

The three Hamas officials have been living there since July. During that time, they've held a number of press conferences and met with foreign dignitaries, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Every Friday, dozens of East Jerusalem residents gather at the Red Cross to hold prayers as a show of support.

CBN News spoke exclusively Muhammed Totah, one the three Hamas officials, who denied involvement in Shalit's kidnapping, but refused to recognize Israel's right to exist.

"The Israelis have come in 1948 to our historical Palestine," Totah told CBN News. "They have occupied 78 percent of our land. And in 1967 they have occupied the other 22 percent."

Red Cross spokesperson Cecilia Goin told CBN News that hosting the wanted Hamas officials is in line with the organization's humanitarian mission -- despite Hamas' long track record of terrorism.

"Under international humanitarian law, East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory," Goin said. "So the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are considered protected people."

Goin, who refers to Israel as an "occupying power" in East Jerusalem, said politics are not involved in the Red Cross's decision. CBN News Senior Editor John Waage, who's long analyzed the Middle East, believes otherwise.

"I think it's a thinly veiled, in your face statement to Israel that East Jerusalem is part of a future Palestinian state," Waage said.

"The Red Cross has asked repeatedly to see Gilad Shalit," he added. "They've never been allowed to see him, and yet at the same time, they're housing three members of Hamas."

The Red Cross said it will not prevent Israeli authorities from arresting the Hamas officials. The Israeli government had no comment on the situation.

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Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Correspondent

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.