Israeli troops arrest 10 Hamas leaders

March 19th, 2009 - 4:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Tel Aviv, March 19 (RIA Novosti) Israeli troops arrested 10 Hamas leaders in a pre-dawn raid in the West Bank, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said Thursday.
“Ten senior Hamas terror operatives… were arrested in a joint IDF and ISA (Israeli Security Agency) operation in the area last night,” the IDF said in a statement. “Among the wanted men were four Hamas legislative council members.”

The detainees include Nasser Shaher, a former Palestinian deputy prime minister, and several Hamas lawmakers, the Ynet news portal said.

According to the IDF statement, the arrested politicians are “the leaders of the ongoing effort to restore the administrative branch of the Hamas terror organisation in the region, while attempting to strengthen the power and influence of Hamas”.

The arrests were carried out two days after intensive talks with Palestinian militants to try and secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured almost three years ago, ended in a deadlock.

The arrests have been portrayed by the Palestinians as an attempt to exert further pressure on Hamas to release Shalit. The soldier is being held in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

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