Israel Arrests Hamas W. Bank Leaders

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM - In a joint raid conducted by Israeli Defense forces and the Shin Bet , at least 10 Hamas political leaders in Judea and Samaria were arrested early Thursday.

Among those detained are Nasser Shaher, a former Palestinian deputy prime minister, along with several other Palestinian lawmakers and a university professor.

The raid comes in the wake of failed prisoner exchange talks in Egypt between Israel and Hamas, and is aimed at preventing Hamas from building a West Bank administrative entity which could threaten the rule of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The arrests could also be a signal to Hamas that it will pay a price for its refusal to free captured Israeli Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped near Gaza in a cross-border raid in June, 2006.

In a statement released after the raid, the IDF said, "These men have been the leaders of an ongoing effort to restore the administrative branch of the Hamas terror organization in the region, while attempting to strengthen the power and influence of Hamas."

Ahmed Baher, a Hamas official in Gaza, called the arrests "immoral blackmail by the Zionist Occupation."

Sources: AP, Ynet News, Ha'aretz

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