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Israel Charges 5 Arabs with Aiding Hamas

A court in Haifa, Israel, has indicted five Israeli Arabs on charges of providing financial help to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The indicted men are members of the northern branch of Israel's Islamic Movement, including the group's leader and the mayor of an Israeli Arab town, Umm el-Fahm, where the movement is based.

All five deny the allegations and say the charges against them are politically motivated.

Dozens of members of the group staged a peaceful rally outside the Haifa court Tuesday, when the five were formally charged.

Israeli police spokesman Gil Kleiman said the men are suspected of criminal offenses, including money laundering and funneling money to illegal organizations that support armed terrorist activities.

They were arrested last month during a police operation in Umm el-Fahm town.