A Palestinian Intelligence officer was kidnapped by four gunmen Thursday in retaliation for the arrest of a militant earlier in the day. Maj. Mohamed Abu Siyam was kidnapped at aproximately 11:30 a.m. as he waited for a taxi in Gaza City, intelligence officials said.
'PA clashes jeopardize cease-fire'
The kidnapping came hours after intelligence officials arrested Hisham Mukhmir of the Popular Resistance Committees, a terrorist group closely linked to Hamas, in connection with the killing Monday of three children of a top security officer.
Popular Resistance Committees spokesman Abu Abir said Abu Siyam would not be released until Mukhmir was freed. This kidnapping "will not be the last. Every intelligence officer should stay at home," he said.
During Mukhmir's arrest Palestinian intelligence officers came under a hail of gunfire in a Gaza City neighborhood in a battle that left three police officers wounded.
The Tuesday attack that left three children dead sparked a new round of internal Palestinian violence and damaged efforts to form a national unity government between the rival Fatah and Hamas groups.
In an effort to defuse the tension, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas rushed home from a trip abroad and was expected to arrive at the Rafah crossing from Egypt Thursday afternoon. Hundreds of Hamas supporters gathered at the crossing to welcome him back and Hamas militiamen lined the nearby streets and set up roadblocks in the area.
The security services said they were pursuing a suspect in the killings of the three boys, which Fatah blamed on Hamas, when their officers came under fire. Three of the officers were wounded, including one who was in serious condition, security officials said in a statement. The officials said they arrested the suspect, but declined to confirm that it was Mukhmir.
Abu Mujahid, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, said he supported efforts to arrest anyone responsible for the killing.
"Any person found guilty of killing children deserves to be killed in front of the people, even if he belongs to the PRC," he said. "His factional immunity is lifted, and the PRC is ready to help with any investigation."
But Abu Abir, another PRC spokesman, condemned the arrest and demanded Mukhmir be immediately released.
The arrest came a day after the brazen daylight shooting of a Hamas activist outside a courthouse in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. Hamas blamed Fatah for that killing, an accusation that Fatah denied.