Israel Arrests 23 Hamas Members, Including MPs, In West Bank

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By Maya Shwayder | February 5, 2013 2:18 AM EST

Early Monday morning in Ramallah, West Bank, 23 men associated with either the militant wing of Hamas or its political section were arrested by Israeli forces, AP and Reuters reported.

The report came from the Hamas side; Israel confirmed the story, saying that 25 Palestinians in total were arrested, 23 of whom “belonged to Hamas,” but did not elaborate.

A statement from Hamas condemned the arrests as “a criminal act that will not succeed in stopping their struggle. We in the Hamas movement strongly condemn the campaign of arbitrary arrests that took in dozens of Hamas leaders.”

Among those arrests was Ahmed Attoun, a lawmaker and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who was previously arrested by Israel and then expelled from Jerusalem in 2011.

The other names released by Hamas were Hatem Qafisha, another member of the PLO and Hamas from Hebron who was previously arrested by Israel in 2007; Adnan Asfour, Omar Aljabarini, Dr. Zinedine Shabana, and Mohammed al-Talhad.

Hamas said that one of the politicians arrested was the head of reconciliation talks between Hamas, the ruling party in the Gaza Strip, and Fatah in the West Bank, Hamas said.

Haaretz also reported that Israeli soldiers also broke into the headquarters of the Tulkarm Charity Committee in the northern part of the West Bank and confiscated computers and papers. Ten years ago in a previous raid on the Tulkarm headquarters Israel discovered links between Tulkarm to Hamas, including $280,000 in donations and material linking Tulkarm to Hamas suicide bombers.

Hamas as a whole is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., the E.U., Canada, Israel, and Japan. The militant wing of Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by Australia and the U.K..

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