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PA security says found underground Hamas bunker

Sept. 23, 2012 1:00 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 24, 2012 4:28 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Palestinian Authority security services spokesman Adnan Dmeiri said that forces on Sunday discovered an underground bunker used by Hamas members in the northern West Bank.

Dmeiri told Ma'an the long tunnel under Urif village, near Nablus, led to a room next to a small bunker containing communication equipment.

He said the room was used as a prison and that Hamas has built secret prisons throughout the northern West Bank, without giving any details.

Dmeiri said several people in charge of the underground bunker had been detained for questioning.

'Fully-equipped apartment'

A Ma'an reporter said a secret entrance to the bunker was found under floor tiles in a restaurant bathroom. An underground tunnel several meters long ends in stairs which open into an apartment. The room contains a refrigerator, a television, a gas cooker and some simple cooking equipment.

Another room has two beds, a bathroom, and small room with its own bathroom. The complex is connected to electricity and water network and contains a satellite receiver as well as other communications equipment.

Palestinian officials insist the compound is used as a prison, but a Ma'an reporter was not allowed into alleged prison facilities because security forces said investigations were still underway.

Palestinian security sources told Ma'an that hundreds of thousands of US dollars were seized in the bunker as well as flags, videotapes, documents and military uniforms of the Hamas' military wing.

The PA's preventive security service learned about the bunker from members of Hamas military wing who are currently being interrogated in the West Bank, the sources said.

Security sweep

PA security forces have rounded up scores of Hamas supporters this week, in an arrest campaign criticized by human rights groups.

A Hamas statement on Saturday said 120 party members had been arrested or summoned to report to security services since Wednesday.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights condemned the campaign and called on the Palestinian government in Ramallah to fully comply with the law and stop political arrests.

Dmeiri said Thursday the arrests were conducted legally and not based on the detainees' political views. He said Hamas was exaggerating the number of arrests, but did not provide alternative figures.

Hamas: Nothing but lies

Hamas spokesperson Salah Bardaweel said the whole story was nothing but lies and baseless claims made up by the Palestinian Authority to justify the recent mass arrests in the West Bank.

"This is an attempt to whitewash the crime of abduction, torture and property confiscation committed against the noble people and their institutions," he said in a statement.

"Such actions can only serve the Israeli occupation even if they succeed to turn the public’s attention from the ongoing protests against Ramallah Authority and its shameful agreements (with Israel)."

Meanwhile Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf released a statement saying the bunker is decisive evidence that Hamas is preparing to stage a coup against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank as in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in a brief civil war in 2007, ushering in a half decade of rivalry with Fatah-dominated authorities in the West Bank.
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