Hamas says Israeli troops have arrested one of its parliament members in the West Bank and two senior Hamas members at an International Committee of the Red Cross building in east Jerusalem. The Islamic group says in a text-messaged statement that Abdel Jaber Fuqaha was taken from his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah early Tuesday. Hamas says Fuqaha is the fifth Hamas lawmaker to be arrested since last week.
Hamas says 24 of its 45 parliament members from the West Bank are currently in Israeli detention. The group won 2006 parliamentary elections, defeating the Fatah movement headed by Western-backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel, along with the U.S. and the EU, considers Hamas a terrorist group and has periodically arrested and released Hamas lawmakers.
On Monday, Israeli arrested two senior Hamas members at an International Committee of the Red Cross building in east Jerusalem where they had taken shelter for some 18 months, Red Cross and Israeli officials said.
Palestinian lawmaker Mohammed Totah and Khaled Abu Arafah, a former cabinet minister, face possible expulsion from the city when they appear before an Israeli judge this week, Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
The ICRC confirmed the arrests and said that as east Jerusalem was considered occupied territory under international law, Israel was not allowed to forcibly transfer Palestinians. "It will not be in accordance with international humanitarian law" to deport the men, ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said in Geneva.
Israel revoked Totah and Arafah's Jerusalem residency permits in July 2010, a step it has also taken against other Hamas members.
"Two Hamas activists were arrested at the Red Cross building. They were hiding in the building for a year and a half after their ID cards were revoked on suspicions of being active in terrorist activity," Rosenfeld said.
Hamas condemned the arrests as kidnapping by "the Zionist enemy," and said both men deserved immunity from arrest because they were public officials.
In response to Monday's arrests, a crowd of Palestinians smashed the gate of the Red Cross compound in Jerusalem, angry at what they charged was the organization's failure to protect the men.
Last week, the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Aziz Dweik, also of Hamas, was detained on suspicion of what the Israeli military termed "involvement with terrorist groups."