Hamas: Israel sabotaging reconciliation efforts

Spokesman says IDF arrests of organization's members in W. Bank designed to foil efforts to reconcile with Fatah.

Hamas legislator Ahmed Attoun 370 (photo credit: Sam Sokol)
Hamas legislator Ahmed Attoun 370
(photo credit: Sam Sokol)
Defiant Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip said that the arrest of the movement’s political representatives in the West Bank by the IDF was designed to sabotage efforts to achieve reconciliation with Fatah.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the arrests won’t “obstruct Hamas’s role in defending the Palestinians and their lands and holy sites.”
Barhoum said the arrests were primarily designed to foil efforts to achieve reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
The IDF crackdown on the Hamas leadership came as representatives of the movement and Fatah prepared to launch fresh reconciliation talks in Cairo in a bid to end their dispute.
Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel condemned the IDF crackdown, but also criticized the Palestinian Authority for detaining Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
Bardaweel called on the Egyptians to exert pressure on Israel to secure the release of the Hamas men.
Palestinian sources said the Hamas officials were arrested in pre-dawn raids on their homes in Nablus and Hebron.
An IDF spokeswoman confirmed that 23 Hamas members were taken into custody out of a total of 25 arrests made Monday. The arrests occurred in Nablus, Ramallah, Kalkiliya, and Hebron.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, a senior defense source said the arrests were part of a wider effort to prevent Hamas from assembling an infrastructure in the West Bank.
“It’s part of the ‘lawn mowing’ that is required to stop Hamas from converting street popularity and its motivation into organizational achievements,” the source added.
Among those arrested, according to Palestinian sources, are three Hamas legislators: Ahmed Attoun, Mohamed al-Tal and Hatem Kafisheh.
Ahmad Attoun was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006. He was exiled to the West Bank from Israel two years ago after being detained in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
He had been living in the headquarters if the Red Cross there for over a year in order to avoid arrest due to his refusal to renounce his allegiance with Hamas.
The IDF also arrested top Hamas figures Adnan Asfour, Baker Bilal and Omar al-Jabarini.
In recent days, the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank also arrested several Hamas operatives, including some who had just been released from Israeli prison.
PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi on Monday condemned the arrest of several Palestinian lawmakers, calling the arrests “arbitrary” and accusing Israel of “deliberately breaching international law and conventions relating to the immunity of democratically elected Palestinian officials.”
“It is apparent the Israeli government is implementing a policy of intimidation and power politics to meddle in Palestinian domestic affairs and to undermine reconciliation efforts,” she said.
She called on the international community to “hold Israel accountable and to ensure the release of Palestinian lawmakers.”
Sam Sokol and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.