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Hamas slams detention of 3 Palestinians by PA as 'collaboration' with Israel

April 10, 2016 2:04 P.M. (Updated: April 11, 2016 12:10 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Palestinian security forces found and detained three Palestinians on Saturday who had been reported missing, in a move slammed by the Hamas movement as collaboration between PA and Israeli authorities to thwart a planned attack inside Israel.

The Hamas movement responded to the incident, accusing the Palestinian security services of “cooperation with the Israeli occupation” in the detention of three “resistance fighters.”

Sources from the Palestinian general intelligence said an intelligence officer noticed three Palestinians walking Saturday in a mountainous area known locally as Ein al-Leimoon in the village of Mazari al-Nubani near Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank.

The officer reportedly thought the Palestinians were Israeli settlers, according to the sources, and notified his office who sent a joint force of Palestinian intelligence officers and police officers from the Arura police station.

The Palestinians identified themselves to the forces as 33-year-old Basil Mahmoud al-Aaraj from al-Walaja village near Bethlehem, 23-year-old Muhammad Abdullah Harb from Jenin, and 19-year-old Haytham al-Sayyaj from Hebron.

The three, according to the intelligence sources, were carrying bags. They were taken to a Palestinian general intelligence office and their families -- who had reported them missing on Friday April 1 -- were notified.

Hebrew-language news outlet 0404 reported on Saturday evening that the three Palestinians had been detained for planning a “terrorist” attack inside Israel, following a days-long manhunt that ensued once Israeli security had been alerted of the threat.

According to the Israeli media report, the three were detained thanks to "cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority." 0404 added that in addition to the bags Palestinian security sources said were found on their persons, weapons, hand grenades, and camping equipment were also reportedly found.

The report also said a "fourth suspect" -- described as an "assistant who delivered the weapons to the group" -- was detained by Israeli forces Saturday in the village of Qatanna near Ramallah. An Israeli army spokesperson previously confirmed to Ma’an a detention had been made during overnight raids in Qatanna.

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement that “detaining the three was very dangerous and reflects a rise in the security cooperation between these security services and (the Israeli) occupation in an attempt to foil the Palestinian Intifada.”

“The Islamic resistance movement Hamas condemns the practices of the West Bank security forces and holds the PA and Fatah leadership responsible for such non-patriotic practices,” the statement added.

The detentions come after a statement released Saturday by Hamas spokesman Husam Badran alleged that Israel has detained dozens of Palestinians just after their release from PA jails since a wave of unrest increased in October 2015, as part of “escalating security collaboration” with the Israeli authorities.

Badran accused the PA of “adopting a revolving door policy, where pro-intifada activists illegally detained by the PA would be released and then arrested by the Israeli occupation shortly after.”

The Fatah-dominated PA and Israeli forces have worked in coordination since the Oslo Accords in 1993, which planned for a gradual power transfer of the occupied West Bank from Israeli forces to the PA over the course of five years.

More than 20 years on, any transfer of power has yet to take place. Saturday’s condemnation is the most recent criticism by Hamas and other groups who repeatedly accuse the PA of aligning with Israel's goals in the occupied West Bank, and recently of preventing a sustained uprising against Israel.
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