Top Fatah official kidnapped in Gaza

Fayad adviser and Hamas critic, Omar Al-Ghoul detained by Hamas 'for illegal activities.'

pal gunmen 224 (photo credit: AP [file])
pal gunmen 224
(photo credit: AP [file])
Armed gunmen burst into the home of a top Fatah official in Gaza early Friday and kidnapped him, the man's family said, in the first such abduction of a politician since Hamas forces routed their Fatah rivals and overtook the strip in June. A Hamas spokesman, Ihab al-Ghussein, confirmed that al-Ghoul was detained and is being interrogated for illegal activities. He didn't elaborate. Omar Al-Ghoul is an adviser to Salaam Fayad, the Palestinian Authority prime minister appointed to lead the West Bank government after Hamas took control of Gaza. Al-Ghoul is considered a harsh critic of Hamas and has a regular newspaper column in which he frequently attacks the Islamic movement. The West Bank government's information minister, Riad Malki, said the kidnapping was "barbaric" behavior and part of Hamas's attempts to "extort" his government. Al-Ghoul arrived in Gaza from the West Bank on Thursday to attend the funeral of his mother-in law. Around 4 a.m. Friday, armed gunmen in civilian clothes burst into his Gaza home, turning it upside down and seizing Al-Ghoul, his relatives reported. The incident followed another attempt to kidnap a Fatah official on Thursday, which failed. After its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June, Hamas kidnapped several Fatah security officials but mostly refrained from targeting its political officials.