PA rounds up Hamas men

Arrests come in response to Islamists' election boycott threat.

unity talks 248.88 (photo credit: )
unity talks 248.88
(photo credit: )
One day after Hamas announced that it would boycott the Palestinian municipal elections slated for July 17, the Palestinian Authority security forces arrested scores of Hamas officials and supporters in the West Bank on Tuesday.
Eyewitnesses said that among those taken into custody was Sheikh Jamal al-Tawil, the mayor of al-Bireh, the twin city of Ramallah.
Tawil was arrested by PA security agents who waited for him outside his office, beat him and led him away, the eyewitnesses said.
Tawil, who was elected in the December 2005 municipal elections, is one of Hamas’s top representatives in the West Bank. He has spent at least 13 years in Israeli prisons for security offenses.
The mayor’s wife, who is also affiliated with Hamas, was arrested four months ago by the IDF on security charges.
At least 20 other Hamas figures were rounded up by the PA security forces since the movement’s announcement that it would boycott the municipal elections. Many of those who were arrested were recently released from Israeli prisons.
In Kabalan, 19 km. southeast of Nablus, six Hamas supporters were arrested by the PA security men after receiving a delegation of the movement’s legislators.
The six were identified as Mahmoud Qassem Aza’ar, Abdel Ilah Musa, Hareth Yusef Ahed, Yusef Barhoum Zaidan, Ali Saud al-Amleh and Bilal Jamil al-Amleh.
In Kalkilya, the PA arrested Sheikh Riyad al-Walweel, 55, a seniorrepresentative of Hamas who had spent many years in Israeli prisons. Itwas the sixth time that Walweel had been arrested by the PA securityservices in the past two years.
In Jenin, the PA arrested Nael Amour, a school principal, and four other men on suspicion of membership in Hamas.
Meanwhile, Hamas legislator Muhammad Abu Tir, who was released fromIsraeli prison last week after serving a 43-month sentence, on Tuesdayaccused the PA of “collusion” with Israel.
Abu Tir, who is famous for his orange beard, said the arrest of Hamaslegislators and officials by Israel was carried out “in collusion withthe Fatah authority in Ramallah, which rejected the outcome of theparliamentary election in 2006.”
He said that Abbas and the PA did not do anything to protest againstthe arrest of elected members of the Palestinian parliament.