Defiant Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip said that the arrest of the movement’s
political representatives in the West Bank by the IDF was designed to sabotage
efforts to achieve reconciliation with Fatah.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi
Barhoum said that the arrests won’t “obstruct Hamas’s role in defending the
Palestinians and their lands and holy sites.”
Barhoum said the arrests
were primarily designed to foil efforts to achieve reconciliation between Fatah
The IDF crackdown on the Hamas leadership came as
representatives of the movement and Fatah prepared to launch fresh
reconciliation talks in Cairo in a bid to end their dispute.
legislator Salah Bardaweel condemned the IDF crackdown, but also criticized the
Palestinian Authority for detaining Hamas supporters in the West
Bardaweel called on the Egyptians to exert pressure on Israel to
secure the release of the Hamas men.
Palestinian sources said the Hamas
officials were arrested in pre-dawn raids on their homes in Nablus and
An IDF spokeswoman confirmed that 23 Hamas members were taken
into custody out of a total of 25 arrests made Monday. The arrests occurred in
Nablus, Ramallah, Kalkiliya, and Hebron.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post,
a senior defense source said the arrests were part of a wider effort to prevent
Hamas from assembling an infrastructure in the West Bank.
“It’s part of
the ‘lawn mowing’ that is required to stop Hamas from converting street
popularity and its motivation into organizational achievements,” the source
Among those arrested, according to Palestinian sources, are three
Hamas legislators: Ahmed Attoun, Mohamed al-Tal and Hatem Kafisheh.
Attoun was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006. He was exiled
to the West Bank from Israel two years ago after being detained in the Jerusalem
neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
He had been living in the headquarters if
the Red Cross there for over a year in order to avoid arrest due to his refusal
to renounce his allegiance with Hamas.
The IDF also arrested top Hamas
figures Adnan Asfour, Baker Bilal and Omar al-Jabarini.
In recent days,
the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank also arrested several
Hamas operatives, including some who had just been released from Israeli
PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi on Monday
condemned the arrest of several Palestinian lawmakers, calling the arrests
“arbitrary” and accusing Israel of “deliberately breaching international law and
conventions relating to the immunity of democratically elected Palestinian
“It is apparent the Israeli government is implementing a
policy of intimidation and power politics to meddle in Palestinian domestic
affairs and to undermine reconciliation efforts,” she said.
She called on
the international community to “hold Israel accountable and to ensure the
release of Palestinian lawmakers.”
Sam Sokol and Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.