IDF arrests two Hamas commanders in West Bank

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Hamas: Israel trying to foil unity with Fatah

HAMAS MEMBERS in Gaza. (photo credit: REUTERS)


(photo credit: REUTERS)

Hamas claimed on Thursday that the arrest of two of its senior officials in the West Bank by the IDF was intended to derail Palestinian efforts to prevent Israel from applying its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.

The two, Jamal Tawil and Hussein Abu Kwiek, were arrested during a pre-dawn IDF raid on their homes in Ramallah and its twin city of El-Bireh.

Tawil, who was elected mayor of El-Bireh in 2006, has been arrested several times by the IDF during the past two decades because of his activities on behalf of Hamas. Last year, after he went on hunger strike to protest his administrative detention, he was released from prison.

Abu Kweik, also a senior Hamas official in the West Bank, had also been previously arrested several times by the IDF in the past two decades. He was also arrested on a number of occasions by the Palestinian Authority security forces.  During the Second Intifada, his wife and three children were killed in an IDF attack on his vehicle in Ramallah.

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Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said that the arrest of the two top officials was part of “desperate attempt to obstruct the joint path of national work to confront plans to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Qassem was referring to last week’s announcement by Hamas and the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction that they have reached agreement to work together to topple Israel’s annexation plan and US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace vision, also known as the Deal of the Century.

“Despite the arrest of our leaders [in the West Bank], Hamas will continue its struggle against the occupation and its projects,” Qassem said. “We will also continue to develop the path of unity with all components of our people in order to reach a joint strategy for confronting the colonial annexation plan.”

The arrest came one week after Fatah and Hamas held a joint press interview, during which they announced their intention to join forces against Israel and the US. Jibril Rajoub, Secretary-General of the Fatah Central Committee, and Saleh Arouri, deputy chairman of the Hamas “political bureau,” spoke via teleconference from Ramallah and Beirut.

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Tawil, the senior Hamas official arrested early Thursday by the IDF, praised last week’s joint press conference and said it came as a reminder to the whole world that the Palestinians “will not forget their cause and will be united for its sake.”

The message coming out of the joint press conference, Tawil said, “is that we are all aboard one ship, and though we may differ on who the captain is, we nevertheless won’t allow it to sink.”

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