IDF court extends remands of PA minister and four legislators

Five top Hamas leaders will continue to pass the time behind bars in an Israeli prison, an IDF military court judge ruled Wednesday afternoon, extending the remand of the five politicians and suspected terrorists by an additional five days. The five - one cabinet minister and four members of the Palestinian Legislative Council - were all arrested in raids in the West Bank and Jerusalem last week in response to the kidnappings of Cpl. Gilad Shalit and 18-year-old Itamar resident Eliahu Asheri. All five refused to recognize the legitimacy of the IDF military court in which the hearing took place. "They do not recognize the authority of the State of Israel and of the security authorities to arrest them, let alone in the way in which they were arrested," attorney Jawad Bulus told the court. One of the detainees, Na'if Rajoub, is the Palestinian minister in charge of the Waqf (Islamic trust). The other four, Awar Zaboun, Mohammed Altal, Khalil Raba'i and Bassam Za'arour are all Hamas representatives in the Hamas faction of the Palestinian Legislative Council. The five are just a small group of the 64 Hamas members arrested during raids last Thursday. All told, eight of Hamas's 23 cabinet ministers and 20 of its 72 lawmakers were arrested. The detainees included such senior figures as Finance Minister Omar Abdel Razek, Labor Minister Muhammad Barghouti, parliament member Muhammad Abu Tir and the mayors of Kalkilya and Jenin. "[These are] parliament members who were elected in democratic elections and received the support, agreement and oversight of the entire world, including the State of Israel. This is the choice and desire of the Palestinian people." said Bulus. "These detentions are a slap in the face to the entire Palestinian people, to everyone who supported the elections held as they were," he added. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev said that the arrests were meant to emphasize that "Israel rejects the unofficial distinction that has been made within Hamas of a military and political wing." In the coming days, another round of Hamas members was supposed to be brought from the Ramle prison - where all 64 detainees are being held - to the IDF's Military Court at Camp Ofer for a remand extension.