Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 9, 2010
Alleged terror ties are at the heart of a lawsuit the US Consulate in
Jerusalem is fighting; it is being sued for NIS 250,000 by a former employee
who the consulate discovered had ties with Hamas.
The plaintiff is Azam Qiq, who worked at the diplomatic mission until 2006
as a mechanic. His father was Hassan Qiq, the former head of Hamas in
Jerusalem, who died in 2006.
Azam Qiq was hired by the consulate in 2003 and underwent a background check
by its security teams. According to court documents obtained by The
Jerusalem Post, during his hiring interview, Qiq said he had never been
arrested or interrogated by the Israeli police.
For the next three years, Qiq worked in the consulate motor pool and was a
good employee. He even received two awards from then counsel-general Jacob
Walles for his exemplary service.
That changed in February 2006, when his father, Hassan, passed away.
According to the consulate's response to the lawsuit, filed with the
Jerusalem Labor Court, senior Hamas officials attended Hassan's funeral,
which was lined with Hamas flags.
Six months later, the consulate learned of Qiq's father's identity. Attached
to the consulate's response to the lawsuit was a flyer Hamas put out after
"Believers of God and the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas consider as a
grand master, teacher and educator Prof. Hassan Suleiman Qiq, member of the
Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and a member of the founding of the Islamic
Resistance Movement Hamas," the flyer read.
Hassan Qiq was known by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and was part
of the focus of an investigation that brought down Hamas's Jerusalem branch
and ended in 2007.
A month later, Azam Qiq was arrested in the middle of the night by the Shin
Bet and was accused of hiding a suitcase with documents pertaining to Hamas
finances in his house. His brother Ziad, who was an adviser to the Hamas
minister in charge of Jerusalem, was also arrested at the time. According to
the court documents, Azam Qiq confessed to having stored the suitcase in his
The consulate also later discovered that he had been arrested twice
previously - once for throwing stones in 1988 and another time for joining
an illegal organization in 1989, for which he served a month in
Qiq was fired by the consulate in September 2006.
In 2007, he filed a lawsuit against the consulate and the US government for
unlawful dismissal and demanded close to NIS 250,000 in compensation. He
claimed that his dismissal was not done in accordance with law, and that he
did not receive severance pay.
The consulate, in its response, claimed that it had no choice but to fire
"We cannot exaggerate in emphasizing the sensitivity of having access to the
consulate's motor pool, which doesn't just service consulate workers but
also serves VIPs who come frequently to Jerusalem on official US government
business," read the response filed with the court.
Asked about the Qiq case, a consulate representative said, "We cannot
comment on internal personnel issues."
Qiq also refused to answer questions about the case.
In related news, tension between the defense establishment and the consulate
remains high, following an incident in November during which a US convoy
blocked a West Bank crossing and one driver allegedly tried to run over an
According to a detailed, official Israel Police description of the incident,
obtained exclusively by the Post, which reported on it two weeks ago, the
drivers refused to identify themselves or to open a window or door. The
drivers, according to the report, purposely blocked the crossing, tried
running over one of the Israeli security guards stationed there and made
indecent gestures at female guards.
Following the incident, the head of the police's Security Department,
Lt.-Cmdr. Meir Ben-Yishai, convened a meeting on November 18 at police
headquarters in Jerusalem with the regional security officer at the
consulate, Tim Laas. Also present were officials from the Defense Ministry,
the Foreign Ministry and the regional security officer at the US Embassy in
Tel Aviv, Dan Power.
According to new information obtained by the Post, at the meeting, Laas
asked Ben-Yishai how could he be certain when opening the door to a
consulate car at a checkpoint that the guard was not a settler or mentally
unstable and would not give the passengers in the vehicle the "Rabin
treatment," in an apparent reference to the assassination of prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
Participants at the meeting were reportedly shocked by the comment, which
today, two months later, continues to resonate in police corridors.
In response, the consulate representative said, "We cannot comment on
meetings with foreign government officials. The US Consulate General in
Jerusalem values its professional and collegial relationship with Israeli
authorities. Our staff meet on a regular basis to discuss crossing
procedures, to adjust to the changing needs on the ground, and to ensure
The representative also denied police assertions that the consulate driver
tried to run over a checkpoint guard and that the drivers made indecent
gestures at female guards.