Saturday, June 23, 2007
By Khalid Amayreh in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem
"Israeli occupation forces on Saturday abducted Sheikh Saleh Aruri, a moderate Hamas leader who was freed from Israeli dungeons only a few months ago after spending 15 years of uninterrupted imprisonment for resisting the Israeli military occupation of his homeland.
His relatives said a large force of soldiers, army jeeps and personnel carriers stormed the village of Arura near Ramallah around dawn, before encircling Aruri’s home and arresting him.
The Israeli army didn’t say why Aruri was arrested. However, reliable sources in Ramallah intimated that that the Israeli intelligence, the Shin Bet, which effectively controls all aspects of Palestinian life in the West Bank, was incensed by Aruri’s contacts with Fatah leaders in Ramallah, apparently for the purpose of mitigating tension between Fatah and Hamas following the latest events in Gaza.
“They didn’t like the reconciliation efforts he was making. They wanted to deepen division between Fatah and Hamas, hence, they viewed his efforts as incompatible with their goal,” said a close friend to Aruri.
The source said that Aruri, who got married recently, was leading a quiet life in his village and was not involved in any politically activities ever since he was released from the lengthy imprisonment, including six years of political captivity without charge or trial, otherwise known as “administrative detention.”
Israeli leaders have been saying they will take a number of “gestures” and “far-reaching measures” to strengthen the authority of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas. The measures include transferring hundreds of millions of dollars of frozen Palestinian tax revenue returns to Abbas, and giving a green line to the US to supply arms, possibly including armor personnel carriers, to Abbas’s Presidential Guard.
Israel hopes that by making Abbas’s government in Ramallah inherently dependent on Israel, the PA will have an umbilical attachment with Israel, which in turn would further widen and deepen the chasm between Abbas and Hamas.
However, Palestinian leaders have warned that by getting too close to Israel and the US, Abbas and Fatah risk alienating the Palestinian masses. Some observers believe that large sectors of the Palestinian masses are already viewing the Abbas authority as an American puppet."