Palestinian forces arrest 100 Hamas members

Palestinian Authority forces have arrested more than 100 Hamas members in the West Bank who were allegedly planning to carry out attacks, in the biggest raid of its kind in years.

Palestinians use a ladder to climb over the separation barrier with Israel on their way to pray at the alAqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Picture: AP
Palestinians use a ladder to climb over the separation barrier with Israel on their way to pray at the alAqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Picture: AP

Spokesman for Palestinian security, Adnan Dameri said “We will not let Hamas undermine our security and draw our country to bloodshed; we will not let Hamas carry out attacks in the West Bank.”

Islamist Hamas controls the Gaza Strip and is a rival of Fatah, the movement headed by Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas which is dominant in the West Bank.

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Though Mr Abbas formally reconciled with Hamas last year to form a unity government, distrust remains.

“We are arresting them for interrogation or to put them on trial based on evidence they are threatening Palestinian internal security and stability and are trying to drag the region and drag us into military confrontation and destroy the area,” Mr Dmairi said.

Hamas in Gaza published the names of 108 of its members who had been arrested.

It was the biggest mass arrest in one night since 2007 when Palestinians split after Hamas violently ousted forces loyal to Mr Abbas from Gaza, leaving him governing just parts of the West Bank.

A Hamas spokesman said the arrests were meant to stop the recent spate of deadly Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

He accused Palestinian security forces of working for Israel and said the militant group held Mr Abbas personally responsible. He said Hamas would continue attacks against Israelis in the West Bank.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she had no information on the arrests, which took place two days after Israel said it had rounded up 40 Hamas men in the West Bank in recent months, accusing them of planning attacks on Israel.

There has been a surge in deadly Palestinian attacks on Israelis recently. Two Israelis were killed in separate West Bank shootings that also injured several people, and two others were wounded in stabbing attacks.

Meanwhile, an Israeli general has accused members of Hamas in Gaza of providing support to militants linked to Islamic State (IS) in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, where the Egyptian army has fought deadly battles with Islamist insurgents in recent days.

Major-General Yoav Mordechai, who oversees Israel’s civilian policy towards Gaza, named members of Hamas’s military wing he said were involved in training IS fighters and smuggling wounded from Sinai into Gaza for treatment.

“We know that Hamas – and I have verified information – that Hamas in Gaza is assisting [IS] Sinai Province both in organisation and armaments,” Mr Mordechai said in an interview.

He named two Hamas members, saying one, Abdallah Qishta, had been involved in training IS members in Sinai and a second, Wael Faraj, a battalion commander, had “smuggled terrorists from Sinai into Gaza Strip hospitals for medical treatment”.