Palestinian forces arrest "dead" Hamas commander
Palestinian security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas have arrested a prominent Hamas commander in the West Bank, who had been claimed as dead for the last six years, security officials said Monday.
"We have arrested Rajab al-Sharif, 36, in the west of Nablus in a complicated operation that took two months of planning," the officials told the independent Palestinian Maan news agency.
The sources said al-Sharif was wanted by the Palestinian Authority (PA) since 2004. Militant Islamist movement Hamas had previously claimed that the militant, a senior commander in its military wing, was killed during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, in which Israel temporarily re-occupied the West Bank.
The arrest of al-Sharif comes at the height of a power struggle between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement, who have been locked in an angry and sometimes violent dispute since June 2006, when Hamas routed Abbas loyalists in the Gaza Strip to seize control of security installations there.
Both sides have since been clamping down on supporters of the rival movement in the territories they control, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Fatah in the West Bank, reported dpa.