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ICRC: Israel must comply with law over MP's detention

Sept. 26, 2011 8:39 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 27, 2011 6:43 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross on Monday urged Israel to comply with international humanitarian law following the detention of a Palestinian lawmaker.

Israeli police on Monday stormed a protest tent in front of the Red Cross offices in Jerusalem and detained Hamas-affiliated MP Ahmad Attoun.

"In connection with the arrest of Ahmed Attoun, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, in Jerusalem today, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is calling upon the Israeli authorities to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law," a statement said.

"Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits Israel, regardless of its motive, from forcibly transferring Palestinians.

"Under international humanitarian law, East Jerusalem is an occupied territory, and its Palestinian residents are protected persons within the meaning of Article 4 of the Fourth Geneva Convention," the statement added.

Ahmad Attoun had taken shelter in the ICRC building along with another Hamas legislator and a former Hamas government minister after Israeli authorities revoked their Jerusalem residency permits.

An Israeli police spokesman and a security guard at the ICRC building said paramilitary police disguised as Palestinians had grabbed Attoun at the entrance to the offices and arrested him.

Attoun was taken into custody a day after President Mahmoud Abbas mentioned the men's case in a speech on his return to the occupied West Bank from the United Nations, where he applied for recognition of full Palestinian statehood.

The other two Hamas men remained inside the ICRC building.

In the speech, Abbas accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" that included "decisions to expel elected representatives" from Jerusalem.

In a statement issued in June 2010, after Israel ordered them to leave Jerusalem, the three Hamas men wrote: "We as sons of Jerusalem have never left it before ... we emphasize that we will remain here and never leave it."

The ICRC said it had informed the three Hamas members that ICRC premises had no special status and the ICRC could not prevent police entering the building to arrest them.

Reuters contributed to this report
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