'Israel has declared war on Hamas in West Bank'
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Palestinians say arrest of 5 Hamas legislators a ploy to sabotage Palestinian reconciliation, hurt Hamas in elections.
Israel has declared war on Hamas representatives in the West Bank, Palestinians
said Tuesday, pointing out that five legislators belonging to the Islamist
movement have been arrested in the past few days.
Early Tuesday, IDF
soldiers arrested Abdel Jabbar Fukaha, a Hamas legislator, in Ramallah and
confiscated documents, a laptop and mobile phones from his home.
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wife said that soldiers raided their home around 2 a.m. and arrested her husband
after conducting a thorough search.
She said that their son Mujahed was
served with a summons for interrogation next Sunday, and added that the soldiers
who arrested her husband told him to bring clothes “because [Speaker of the
Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council] Abdel Aziz Dweik is waiting for
Fukaha was released from Israeli prison in February 2011 after
serving a four-month sentence.
Dweik, the highest ranking Hamas official
in the West Bank, was arrested last Thursday as he was driving home from
Ramallah to Hebron. He has since been placed under a six-month administrative
Shortly afterward, soldiers arrested Hamas legislator Khaled
Tafesh in Bethlehem.
On Sunday, Jerusalem Police raided the offices of
the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sheikh Jarrah and arrested Hamas
officials Khaled Abu Arafeh and Muhammad Totah.
The pair have staged a
sit-in protest in the offices over the past year and a half, in an effort to
avoid deportation from Jerusalem after their Israeli-issued ID cards were
revoked by the Interior Ministry.
Abu Arafah served as minister for
Jerusalem affairs in the Hamas government, while Totah was a Hamas
representative in the legislative council.
A few months ago, Jerusalem
Police arrested Mahmoud Atoun, another Hamas legislator who was hiding inside
the Red Cross offices with Abu Arafah and Totah.
In a related
development, Hamas legislators in Tulkarm said on Tuesday that an Israeli
security official phoned them and ordered them to close their office
The legislators, Fathi Qarawi and Riad Raddad, said this was
the second such threat they had received in a month.
They said that the
threat was part of an Israeli campaign to destroy Hamas in the West Bank.
“Israel has declared war on Hamas,” they said. “But we won’t be deterred and we
will continue to fulfill our duties.”
Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip
said they believed that the Israeli crackdown on their West Bank representatives
was aimed at sabotaging efforts to achieve reconciliation between the movement
One official said that the clampdown was also designed to foil
plans to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian
territories in May.
“Israel thinks that the arrests will destroy Hamas’s
chances of winning the elections,” the official added. “On the contrary, these
measures will only increase Hamas’s popularity.”
Hamas spokesman Mushir
al-Masri denounced the Israeli actions as a “fierce war” against Hamas. He
called on human rights organizations to intervene and pressure Israel to secure
the release of “legislators who were elected by the people in a democratic