Ex-Hamas official freed in Damascus
Armed gunmen captured Mustafa Lidawi on Saturday as tension rises between group and its former patron.
Hamas supporters Photo: REUTERS
A former top Hamas official was released Monday night after being captured two
days earlier in Damascus, Palestinian media reported.
family told the Ma’an News Agency he was released after unidentified gunmen held
him for two days in the Syrian capital. Lidawi was captured near his home
Saturday night in Damascus’s sprawling Yarmouk refugee camp, according to the
London-based newspaper Al-Hayat.
Israel expelled Lidawi, 64, from the
Gaza Strip in 1991.
Since then he has held a number of high-level
positions with Hamas, including as the group’s representative in Syria, Lebanon
and Iran. In recent years he has been based primarily in Tehran, where he works
as a columnist for Arabic-language newspapers.
As the violent Syrian
uprising enters its second year, Hamas has been keen to distance itself from its
one-time patron in Damascus.
In February, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail
Haniyeh expressed support for the predominantly Sunni insurgents fighting
President Bashar Assad’s regime – the first time the group has come out publicly
against its former benefactor. Since then the group is believed to have moved
most of its leadership out of its former headquarters in the Syrian capital in
favor of cities in Egypt, Jordan and Qatar.
Yarmouk – Syria’s biggest
Palestinian community with 140,000 people – has not been immune to the violence
rocking the country. Last month an explosion targeting the Palestinian
Liberation Army militia killed three people in the camp, and last summer at
least 14 people were killed there in clashes between supporters and opponents of
the Syrian president.
In August thousands of Palestinians fled a refugee
camp near Latakia as the coastal city came under army fire.
Post staff contributed to this report.