Israel arrests head of PA's Force 17

IDF soldiers on Tuesday arrested the head of Force 17, an elite force linked to the Fatah Party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, members of the force said. They said Mahmoud Damra was arrested at a roadblock outside Nablus. The IDF confirmed the arrest and said Damra was responsible for the deaths of three Israelis in shooting attacks in 2000 and was involved in attacks on soldiers operating in the West Bank. The Jerusalem Post was the first to report Abbas's appointment in May of Col. Damra as head of Force 17 in a presidential decree. PA officials had confirmed that Damra was on Israel's list of wanted terrorists, but claimed that the charges were "baseless." "Damra is a senior Palestinian officer who was very close to the late Yasser Arafat," one official had told the Post. "He did have a role in the revolution and in the struggle against Israel, like most Palestinians. But today he is committed to the peace process and he supports President Abbas."