Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units into Qabatya village nr. Jenin at midday in a car with Palestinian license plates to raid a cafe and arrest a wanted ´ Palestinian; demolishes 4 Palestinian homes in Azariyya nr. Jerusalem, in the E1 area marked for expansion of Ma’ale Adumim settlement, displacing 42 Palestinians. Late in the evening, the IDF conducts synchronized late-night incursions into Hebron, Nablus, Ramallah, and Zatara village nr. Bethlehem to raid and search the homes of 8 senior figures affiliated with Hamas (fmr. PA Dep. PM and Education M Nasser al-Din al-Sha‘ir in Nablus; Reform and Change Palestinian Council legislators Nizar ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Ramadan and ‘Assam Nu‘man Salhab in Hebron; Ayman Husayn Darghma in Ramallah; Khalid Tafish Thwayb in Zatara; Reform and Change office director for Ramallah and al-Bireh Mazin al-Rimawi in Ramallah; senior Hamas leader Adnan Ahed Asfur and al-Najah University prof. Issam Rashid al-Ashqar in Nablus), arresting them for their “ongoing efforts to restore the administrative branch of the Hamas terror organization in the [West Bank].” The moves come as an Israeli Justice Min. comm. debates limiting the privileges (e.g., visitation, phone calls, study groups) of Hamas prisoners in Israel. Some 40 Hamas-affiliated legislators have been arrested since Shalit’s capture in 6/06, most of whom remain in detention. Hamas views the moves as Israel’s attempts to pressure it to make concessions in the ongoing Cairo prisoner exchange talks. The IDF conducts additional late-night arrest raids, house searches in Nablus, and nr. Hebron, Jenin, and Tulkarm. Mbrs. of Kiryat Arba settlement’s private security service detain a Canadian journalist and a fieldworker for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem as they pass nr. the settlement, holding them until the IDF arrives to question them; they are released 4 hrs. later. (OCHA 3/18; PCHR 3/19; NYT, WP, WT 3/20; OCHA 3/24, 3/25; PCHR 3/26; JPI 4/3)