PA says it holds Hamas prisoners to keep them safe

Palestinian Authority: Hamas said they'd be responsible for released men's safety; Hebron shooting sparks crisis between PA, Hamas.

Hamas prisoner released from PA jail, rearrested 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Hamas prisoner released from PA jail, rearrested 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority announced over the weekend that it holds Hamas men in its prisons out of concern for their safety and to prevent Israel from capturing them.
The announcement came as the PA and Hamas traded allegations over the arrest by the IDF of six Hamas men shortly after they were released from a Palestinian prison in Hebron last Thursday.
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PA officials said that Hamas ignored warnings by the Palestinian security forces that the men's lives would be in danger once they walked out of prison.
“Hamas said that they would be responsible for the safety of their men and that’s why we released them,” said Gen. Adnan Dumairi, spokesman for the Fatah-dominated security forces in the West Bank.
“The detainees and their families signed a document stating that they are fully aware of the risks and that they alone bear responsibility.”
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the Hamas men were kept in a PA prison so that they wouldn’t be arrested by the IDF.
Nimer Hammad, political advisor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, also lashed out at Hamas for pressuring the Palestinian leadership to release the six detainees. “We hold Hamas men in our prisons to protect them from Israel,” he stressed.
The men who were arrested by the IDF were identified as Wael Bitar, Majdi Obeid, Ahmed Uwaiwi, Muhanad Nairoukh, Wissam Qawasmeh and Mohammed Sukiyeh. Some of them are suspected of involvement in terror attacks against settlers in the Hebron area, IDF sources said.
A 66-year-old Palestinian, Omar Qawasmeh, was shot and killed by IDF soldiers during the raid on the home of his nephew, Bitar.
Qawasmeh’s wife said that the soldiers opened fire at him while he was sleeping in his bed.
The incident in Hebron triggered a new crisis between the PA and Hamas, whose representatives accused the Palestinian security forces of “collusion” with Israel and called for ending security coordination between the Palestinians and Israel in the West Bank.
The PA accused Hamas of exploiting the incident to incite against its leaders and security forces. The PA also said that Hamas bears full responsibility for the safety of the six men.
The PA also criticized Israel for arresting the six Hamas activists and killing the elderly man.
“This is a campaign of incitement against the Palestinian Authority,” said Kamel Hmeid, the PA governor of Hebron. “Israel is playing with fire. This is an unjustified crime that will lead to more instability in the region.”
Hmedi said that by arresting the Hamas men shortly after they were released from Palestinian prison on the instructions of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel was seeking to undermine the PA and sabotage efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah crisis.
The Hamas men were released from prison out of fear for their lives because they had been on hunger strike for 40 days. PA officials said they were released following the intervention of the emir of Qatar and the head of the Islamic Movement in Israel – Northern Branch, Sheikh Raed Salah.