The IDF has arrested a number of senior Hamas figures in the West Bank, Palestinian sources said Monday.
The sources said the Hamas officials were arrested in pre-dawn raids on their homes in Nablus and Hebron.
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, Qalqiliya, 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 added.
Among those arrested, according to the sources, are three Hamas legislators: Ahmed Attoun, Mohamed al-Tal and Hatem Kafisheh.
The IDF also arrested top Hamas figures Adnan Asfour, Baker Bilal and Omar al-Jabarini.
PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi on Monday said the arrests are arbitrary, and accused Israel of "deliberately breaching international law and conventions relating to the immunity of democratically elected Palestinian officials."
"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."
Ahmad 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 with Hamas.
Attoun’s brother Jihad was arrested in February 2011 for his role in a Jerusalem terror cell that planted a pipe bomb, and his other brother, Mahmoud, is currently serving a life sentence for killing three Israelis, including policeman Nissim Toledano, according to the NGO Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
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 prison.Sam Sokol and JPost.com staff contributed to this report.