GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas has condemned the detention of one of the party's leaders by Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank, stressing the political nature of the charges.
Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement that the charges against Nazih Abu Awn by the Nablus Magistrates Court were "stressing," adding that "they aim to ruin Hamas' reputation and are an extension of political, security and media campaigns that target Hamas in the West Bank."
Barhoum also demanded that "Nazih Abu Awn be released immediately along with all political detainees in the West Bank," calling for an end to "campaigns that target reconciliation and national unity and instead activities in support of prisoners in Israeli jails."
West Bank security forces detained Sheikh Nazih Abu Awn and a number of other Hamas supporters who had gathered to welcome ex-prisoner Ibrahim al-Aqra in Nablus on Monday. A day before, PA forces arrested 16 Hamas members.
The detentions threaten to disturb the atmosphere of reconciliation between the two largest Palestinian political parties that has followed after a national unity deal was signed on April 24, ending seven years of political division.
In mid-May, the reconciliation-related Freedoms Committee expressed concern that PA authorities in the West Bank continued to arrest individuals for politically-motivated reasons, specifically targeting Hamas.