Israel arrest of freed Palestinian prisoners draws condemnation

Photo: Israel arrest of freed Palestinian prisoners draws condemnation / Arab-Israel Relations

Since the disappearance of three Israeli teenagers near the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday, the Israeli army has already arrested 240 Palestinians all over the territory, including leaders, lawmakers and students, officials said on Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

Hamas sources in the West Bank confirmed that among the detainees, there are 51 ex-prisoners, who were released in the 2011 Egyptian-brokered swap deal reached between the Islamist movement and Israel to free the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Shalit was kidnapped in a cross-border attack southeast of the Gaza Strip in June 2006 and was held in Gaza in the hands of Hamas until he was freed in accordance with a prisoners' swap deal for the release of 1,028 Palestinian prisoners.

Salah al-Bardaweel, a senior Gaza-based Hamas official told Xinhua that arresting the freed prisoners in Shalit's swap deal " is an Israeli violation to the agreement and a provocation to Hamas and to all Palestinians."

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also said in an official statement that the Palestinian civilians in the West Bank are facing tight Israeli security measures that disabled many families from visiting their sons who are imprisoned in Israeli jails.

The fate of the three Israeli teens, who went missing on Thursday, is still vague amid a growing Israeli military operation in the West Bank. Israel officially announced that they were kidnapped by Palestinian militants and accused Hamas movement of being involved in the abduction.

Shawqi al-Eyassah, the unity government's minister of prisoners ' affairs, who is also the minister of social welfare and agriculture, accused Israel of escalating its security measures against the Palestinians, adding "arresting freed prisoners is a violation of the prisoners' swap deal reached in 2011."

"The Palestinian government and the Palestinian leadership started intensive contacts with Egypt and other international community countries to pressure on Israel to stop these campaigns, " said al-Eyassah, who also accused Israel of violating the international laws.

Qadoura Fares, chairmain of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club Association said in a press statement that the series of Israeli measures "reflect the status of the Israeli government's confusion. "

Meanwhile, the crisis of the three Israelis' disappearance created large arguments between Hamas movement and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, after Abbas expressed readiness for increasing the Palestinian security cooperation with Israel.

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza slammed Abbas statement, adding that "these statements on increasing security cooperation with Israel are unjustified and contradict the reconciliation agreements reached in Cairo and Qatar and causes harms to the Palestinian reconciliation and unity."

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