Son of former Hamas military chief arrested in Fatah sweep

Dozens held in West Bank as part of ongoing crackdown; Hamas arrests Fatah members in Gaza in tit-for-tat measure

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Illustrative photo of Palestinian security forces (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Palestinian security forces (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

The Palestinian Authority has arrested dozens of Hamas members in the West Bank in the past two weeks, including the son of a top bombmaker killed by Israel, Palestinian sources said Tuesday.

The sweeps are part of an ongoing crackdown on the group and other Islamists since the end of Israel’s war with Hamas-led fighters over the summer, while Hamas forces have made arrest raids on Fatah members in the Strip, in a sign of faltering unification efforts despite a pact signed between the rival groups last year.

One of the Hamas members pulled in was named as the son of Yahya Ayyash, a master bombmaker known as “The Engineer” who led the organization’s military wing until his assassination in 1996.

Baraa Ayyash was arrested in Nablus three days ago by members of the Palestinian Preventative Security apparatus.

In a similar manner Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip have, over the past two weeks, arrested dozens of activists from Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar condemned the arrest of Baraa Ayyash and said that Abbas was responsible for what he termed a criminal act.

“It is historical revenge on the martyr,” Zahar wrote on his Facebook page.

Yesterday marked exactly 19 years since Baraa’s father was killed by Israel.

Ayyash, from Kfar Rafat in the northern West Bank, was killed by a booby-trapped exploding cellphone that delivered to him by the Israeli Shin Bet security service while he was in Gaza.

He was considered responsible for designing the bombs used in a number of deadly suicide attacks against Israel.

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