An Israeli military court has sentenced the speaker of the Palestinian parliament to jail for the next six months without trial in the latest of Tel Aviv’s detentions of Hamas’ lawmakers.
Aziz Dweik, a senior official with the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas, was arrested at an army checkpoint near the city of Ramallah in Israel-occupied West Bank last Thursday. On Tuesday, he was issued the detention order ‘without charge or legal justification,’ according to a statement from his office.
Israeli troops arrested another Hamas’ legislator, Abdel Jaber Fuqaha, at his home in Ramallah this week, bringing the total number of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s members imprisoned by Tel Aviv to 27. Nineteen members are held without charge or trial.
On Monday, two Hamas’ lawmakers, Mohammed Totah and Khaled Abu Arafa, were arrested at a compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross in occupied East Jerusalem (al-Quds). They had taken refuge at the compound a year and a half ago after being threatened with expulsion from the city.
According to Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and prisoner advocacy groups, there are currently over 6000 Palestinian prisoners, including legislators, in Israeli jails, many of whom have been rounded up without charge or trial. Independent sources put the number of the inmates at 11,000.
The latest arrests are part of an Israeli suppression campaign targeting senior Palestinian figures’ activities.
The crackdown is believed to be aimed at preventing reconciliation between Hamas and its rival Palestinian faction, Fatah.
The two sides found themselves at odds after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006. The dispute marginalized Hamas’ governance to the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip.
Israel believes that reconciliation will give Hamas greater influence.
On Tuesday, the Palestinian cabinet condemned ‘the continued detention campaign against [the Palestinian Legislative Council’s] members’ and demanded the detainees’ immediate release.