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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Israel nabs 10 senior Hamas members

Thu, 19 Mar 2009 08:30:35 GMT | PressTV

Israeli forces have arrested twenty Palestinians, including ten Hamas senior leaders in the West Bank, Israeli media and military say.

Israeli army forces detained 20 Palestinians in a pre-dawn raid in the West Bank early Thursday.

According to the Palestinians, the detainees include Nasser Shaher, a former Palestinian deputy prime minister, and several Hamas lawmakers.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said on Thursday that forces arrested ten senior Hamas members, including four members of the Hamas legislative council.

The arrests were carried out by a joint military and internal security operation.

The operation comes on the heels of a failure of the Egypt-mediated talks over an exchange of prisoners between Hamas and Israel.

In exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Hamas has demanded the release of 1,400 Palestinian prisoners, including about 450 long-serving inmates. Israel, however, has refused the Hamas prisoner list. They have declared the freedom of Gilad Shalit a precondition for a wider truce with Hamas and the reopening of Gaza's borders, crucial to reconstruction after Israel's 22-day offensive.

On Wednesday, Israeli security forces also detained eighteen Palestinians as part of Tel Aviv's kidnapping campaign in various towns of the West Bank.

Over the last two months, Israeli forces have kidnapped hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank, including teenagers, in direct opposition to a security agreement with the Palestinian National Authority.

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