Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arafat Acts To Detain Militant Activists

JERUSALEM -- Under pressure from Israel, Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat's security forces have arrested more than 110 activists of the Moslem militant group Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, members of the group said Tuesday.


However, only two of those detained were leading figures and none belonged to Hamas' military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, which carried out two deadly weekend suicide bombings in Israel.


Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has vowed to destroy Hamas and has told Arafat he must disarm the group and arrest its leaders if he wants to remain a credible peace partner.


Arafat was to meet later Tuesday with Israel's armed forces chief of staff, Lieutenant General Amnon Shahak, to discuss the crackdown.


Shahak will give Arafat a list of about 10 names of Hamas leaders Israel wants arrested, Israeli officials said.


One of tlose targeted is fugitive Mohammed Deif, 34, a Gaza-based commander of Izzedine al Qassam who reportedly masterminded the latest suicide bombings that killed 27 people.


More than 80 Hamas activists have been rounded up in the Gaza Strip, including one of the group's founders, Mohammed Taha, Hamas activists said. However, police did not arrest senior Hamas leaders Mohammed Zahar and Ahmed Bahar with whom Arafat has been trying to negotiate terms of political participation.


In the West Bank, some 30 activists have been detained since Sunday, members of the group said.


Arafat has ordered such arrest sweeps in the past in response to suicide bombings. However, each time he gradually released the detainees in hopes of avoiding a violent confrontation and negotiating a cease-fire agreement with his political rivals.


Sunday's bombings in a Jerusalem bus and at a hitchhiking post in the coastal town of Ashkelon were planned in Gaza, but the suicide bombers came from the West Bank town of Hebron which is still under Israeli control, the Davar Rishon daily said.


The bodies of both men remained unidentified Tuesday. Police have made a composite picture of the Jerusalem assailant, and the drawing is being shown to Palestinian informers and Israeli troops in the Hebron area for possible identification, police sources said.


The attacks, the worst in Israel in two decades, sent Peres' popularity plummeting ahead of May 29 elections, and a survey suggested he was now running even with his challenger, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud Party.





Both bombers reportedly were disguised as Israeli soldiers and carried their bombs in olive green army bags so they would not arouse suspicion.