Israel arrests 23 Hamas men including three lawmakers in West Bank

Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:03am EST
 
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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Israel arrested 23 Hamas members in the occupied West Bank on Monday, some of them lawmakers, the Islamic group and the Israeli military said.

Hamas said in a statement that the three Hamas lawmakers Ahmed Attoun, Hatem Qafisha and Mohammed al-Talhad had been detained in the early hours of the morning, as well as several local Hamas leaders.

"It is a criminal act that will not succeed in stopping their struggle," the statement said, "We in the Hamas movement strongly condemn the campaign of arbitrary arrests that took in dozens of Hamas leaders."

An Israeli military spokeswoman would not confirm whether Hamas lawmakers had been arrested and did not provide any of the men's names or say why they had been detained.

"Twenty-five Palestinians were arrested, 23 of them belonged to Hamas," she said.

Hamas, which Israel, the United States and the European Union consider a terrorist organization, won the last Palestinian parliamentary election, in 2006.

In 2007, after a unity government collapsed, it seized control of the Gaza Strip from Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.

Egyptian efforts to broker a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah, which holds sway in the West Bank, have so far been unsuccessful.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Kevin Liffey)