Israel arrests Hamas officials in West Bank raid
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Israel arrests Hamas officials in West Bank raid

Ahmed Attoun joins 13 other Palestinian lawmakers in Israeli custody; spokesman for Gaza terror group also picked up near Ramallah

Ahmed Attoun is escorted by police as he leaves the Jerusalem's Magistrate's Court on October 3 2011. (Sliman Khader/FLASH90)
Ahmed Attoun is escorted by police as he leaves the Jerusalem's Magistrate's Court on October 3 2011. (Sliman Khader/FLASH90)

Israeli security forces arrested a Palestinian parliamentarian and a spokesman from the Hamas terror group in the West Bank city of Ramallah early Wednesday morning, reports in Hebrew and Arabic language media said.

Ahmed Attoun, a Hamas lawmaker and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was picked up by Israel Defense Forces soldiers at his al-Bireh home during the arrest raid.

Hamas spokesman Fayez Abu Wardeh was also arrested at his Ramallah home overnight.

An East Jerusalem native, Attoun was previously arrested by Israel for his involvement in Hamas politics, and was exiled to the West Bank after his release a year later from jail in 2011. He joins 13 other Palestinian lawmakers currently in Israeli custody, according to reports.

In a statement, the IDF said it arrested suspects wanted for security-related offenses in Qalandiya, al-Bireh and Hebron, and the three were handed over for questioning. It was not immediately known if Attoun and Abu Wardeh were among the three.

One of those arrested is suspected of throwing rocks at vehicles on West Bank roads and taking part in violent protests against Israeli troops, the army said.

Last month, Israel arrested Hamas MP Samira Halayka in the West Bank city of Hebron. The Shin Bet at the time confirmed Halayka’s arrest, but would not say what she was suspected of doing.

The Gaza-based terrorist group won a majority of seats in the Palestinian legislature during the 2006 elections, sparking a violent clash with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, its political rival and rulers of the West Bank.

Palestinian students who support the Hamas movement take part in an election campaign rally for the student council at Birzeit University, near the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 26, 2016 (AFP/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian students who support the Hamas movement take part in an election campaign rally for the student council at Birzeit University, near the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 26, 2016 (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Reconciliation attempts over the years since have repeatedly failed. Earlier this year, the PA said the repeatedly delayed local elections in the West Bank and Gaza would take place on May 13.

According to local opinion polls and political experts, Hamas — which has been enjoying unusual popularity in the West Bank and remains well-supported in Gaza — is expected to make significant gains in the elections.

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