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Israeli forces detain 2 PA intelligence officials

Dec. 9, 2012 12:13 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 11, 2012 10:46 A.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained two senior members of the Palestinian intelligence service in the southern West Bank early Sunday, a local official said.

The men are from Yatta, south of Hebron, and work for the Mukhabarat, or internal intelligence service, of the Palestinian Authority.

Yatta intelligence director Khalil Mohammad Khalid Abu Eid, 48, and head of Hebron operations Ahmad Ali Hassan Bahees, 40, were seized from their homes in a dawn raid, popular committee coordinator Rateb al-Jabour said.

He said Israeli forces had intensified activity in south Hebron, particularly targeting former members of the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who are protected by previous amnesty agreements.

The Fatah brigade was dismantled in the West Bank after 2007, and members went on to sign amnesty arrangements with Israeli authorities. Many were reintegrated into Palestinian government security forces.

PA security coordinate with Israeli forces under international agreements. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the pair were suspected of "terror activity," but did not elaborate on whether the arrest raid was coordinated with PA officials.

Also Sunday, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that a Palestinian man charged with links to the death of two Israeli settlers near Hebron in 2011 claimed he worked for the Mukhabarat.

Israeli intelligence believe Waal al-Araja, from Halhul, planned what it describes as a "terror attack." Israelis Asher Palmer, 25, and his year-old son Yonatan died in September last year when their car flipped over, having swerved a stone thrown at the vehicle, the report said.

Al-Araja is considered the "head of the terror cell that planned the attack," and told Israel's Shin Bet he worked for the Mukhabarat from 2001 to 2009 and continued as an informer for the agency. The report added that the Shin Bet do not believe al-Araja's claim.

On Thursday, Palestinian police scuffled with Israeli soldiers in central Hebron, after what locals described as an Israeli arrest attempt of an on-duty officer.
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