Israeli security forces have arrested senior Hamas leader Hassan Youssef. The two rival Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah, have both condemned the move as being politically-charged and a bid to ruin their reconciliation talks.
Youssef was taken at his home in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Friday morning. While Israeli authorities have not provided any official information about the move, local media reported that the Hamas co-founder was detained over alleged “renewed” activity by the group.
After helping to found Hamas in the late 1980s, Youssef was repeatedly arrested by the Israeli authorities and spent years behind bars. Hamas has always maintained he was only involved in its political activities, and not associated with its military wing.His arrest was condemned by both Hamas and its rival, Fatah. Hamas claimed the arrest was a politically-motivated move, designed to destabilize the ongoing reconciliation process between the two groups.
“We hereby affirm that the arrest of Sheikh Hassan Youssef by the occupation will not stop the path of unity for which he worked for the past two months,” Hamas said in a statement.
Fatah has voiced a similar opinion on Youssef’s arrest, with the group’s Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub accusing Tel Aviv of “tampering” with the reconciliation talks and attempting to “influence the achievement of national unity.”
“This arrest is a continuation of the occupation’s approach to arresting dozens of our Palestinian people every day, and a continuation of the continuous aggression against our people for decades,” Rajoub stated.
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