Haniyeh waves to supporters after Friday speech in Cairo 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank arrested dozens of Hamas
supporters on Tuesday night, including many who had just been released from
Israeli prison, Palestinians said.
The arrests were carried out on the
same day that the PA leadership in Ramallah called for a day of solidarity with
Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.
According to the Addameer Human
Rights Association, it was the PA’s General Intelligence Service and Preventive
Security force that carried out the arrests.
A PA security official
confirmed that “many suspects” had been rounded up for interrogation in the past
24 hours, but refused to provide further details.
The crackdown came
after PA officials in Ramallah accused Hamas of exploiting the recent protests
against the high cost of living to topple the PA.
Hamas has denied any
link to the protests.
The human rights group said that among those
arrested were political activists, journalists and researchers.
that PA security forces had interrogated the former prisoners immediately after
their release from Israeli prison.
Among those arrested, the group said,
was the recently freed Fuad al-Khafash, who heads a research center specializing
in defending the rights of Palestinian inmates in those prisons.
Khaled, a Palestinian journalist, was also taken into custody, the group said,
noting that he had been freed from Israeli prison only two weeks
Palestinian sources said that the latest clampdown was the biggest
the PA security forces had carried out against “political activists” and
Palestinians who had served time in Israeli prison.
The sources said that
11 Palestinians had been arrested in Kalkilya, 16 in Tulkarm, 11 in Nablus, 14
in Salfit, five in Hebron, one in Ramallah and another in Jenin.
human rights group said the crackdown was the result of security coordination
between the PA and Israel. It said the arrests had taken place for “political
reasons,” and called for the immediate release of all the detainees.
West Bank Palestinian Prisoner’s Committee strongly condemned the PA’s security
clampdown and warned that such measures would deepen divisions among
The committee said it was particularly outraged by the
arrest of a large number of Palestinians who had participated in a hunger strike
while they were in Israeli prisons earlier this year.
“The arrest of
these Palestinians is a crime that should not be allowed to pass without a
response,” the committee said. “This is a disgraceful act of
Salah Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip,
said that the arrests were in the context of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s effort
to “export his internal crisis following the public outcry against corruption
and oppression in the West Bank.” Bardaweel said he also saw a connection
between the mass arrests and Abbas’s criticism of Egypt for receiving Hamas
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Cairo earlier this week.
Abbas expressed outrage over Haniyeh’s invitation to Cairo. Abbas summoned the
Egyptian envoy to Ramallah, Yasser Othman, telling him that Haniyeh was not the
legitimate prime minister and calling on Egypt to stop dealing with the Hamas
Prof. Abdul Sattar Qassem, who is affiliated with Hamas, said
that Abbas ordered the arrests after Israel promised to provide him with
“The arrests have one goal – to protect the occupation and
suppress Palestinian resistance,” he added.