The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on Thursday accused the Palestinian Authority of targeting members of the terror group in the West Bank because of their “political and social activities.”
In recent days, scores of PIJ members were summoned for interrogation or arrested by the PA security forces in Hebron, Ramallah, Tulkarem, Qalqilyeh, Jenin, and Nablus, said Daoud Shehab, spokesperson for Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip
On Thursday, the PA’s Preventative Security Force arrested 12 PIJ members in the Jenin area.
The PA security forces, he said, have been summoning for interrogation or arrest “anyone connected to the intifada and the resistance, including those who support the families of prisoners and martyrs.”
Shehab accused the PA of stifling social and political activities. “There’s no room anymore for political and social work in the West Bank.”
PA security sources said that the crackdown on PIJ was linked to the terror group’s increased activities in the West Bank. The arrests are not linked to the suspects’ political or social activities, the sources clarified, without elaborating.
Among those taken into custody are Maher al Akhras, a senior PIJ operative, and his son, Islam.
The two were arrested during a raid on their home in the village of Silet al Dahriyeh, near Jenin, Palestinian sources said.
Earlier, the PA security forces arrested Hikmat Odeh, another PIJ operative, after raiding his home in Tulkarem, the sources added, noting that he had been released from Israeli prison a few weeks ago after serving a seven-year sentence for security-related offences.
In the Hebron area, the PA security forces arrested Malek Abu Shkhaidem, Nail Bashir, and Mahmoud Odeh, according to the sources.
Fathi al Qara’wi, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council in the West Bank, strongly condemned the PA clampdown, saying there was widespread anger among the Palestinians because of the arrests.
He claimed that the PA security forces have also been arresting Palestinians because of posts on social media and statements in support of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
The Hamas official said that Odeh, who was arrested in Tulkarem, was beaten by PA security forces in front of his family members. The PA security forces’ actions were tantamount to crimes, he charged.