PA Arrests Hamas Members in Sweep of Yehudah and Shomron

GAZA (Reuters/Hamodia) -

Palestinian security forces detained dozens of supporters of Hamas in raids across Yehudah and Shomron overnight, Hamas said on Monday, calling it the biggest round-up in years as internal Palestinian tensions rise.

A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority’s security services confirmed that 30 people had been detained but denied the arrests were political. Hamas said the figure was closer to 80, but this could not be independently confirmed.

“Arrests are made in accordance with the law and not on grounds of political affiliation,” said PA spokesman Adnan Al-Damiri. He described the offenses as “criminal” and accused Hamas of incitement against the Palestinian Authority.

The arrests followed the detention of tens of members of Fatah, the faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas, in Gaza.

Also on Monday, Shin Bet agents and detectives from the LAHAV 433 branch of the Israel Police raided Umm al-Fahm as part of an ongoing investigation into organizations accused of “funding terror activities,” police said.

Police said a number of people were detained and that investigators seized computers, documents and money.

It was the latest phase in an investigation begun in January into three Arab NGOs that the Shin Bet said were giving financial support to activities to “inflame tensions on Har HaBayis.”

On January 12, authorities closed the charities Ruad Al-Aksa, The Al-Jaffar Fund for Art and Literature, and the Nazareth-based Muslims for Al-Aksa. The groups were formed by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in October 2014.