Israel Arrests Hamas Lawmaker In Capital
JERUSALEM– In an undercover operation on Monday, Israeli police forces arrested wanted Hamas political leader and PLC lawmaker Ahmad Attoun, who has been living in the East Jerusalem headquarters of the Red Cross for the past fourteen months in a bid to prevent being deported from Jerusalem. Two other Hamas politicians, Khaled Abu Arafeh and Mohammad Totah, remain in the Sheikh Jarrah compound.
Attoun and his fellow MP’s were wanted by Israel for membership in a terror organization. Without a repudiation of their ties to Hamas, Israel has warned, the legislators are liable to be expelled outside of the Green Line demarcating Israel and the territories.
Attoun was lured out of the Red Cross compound by several undercover officers dressed as Arabs who simulated an altercation on the street outside of the Red Cross. When Attoun stepped outside to see what was happening he was hustled into a waiting car and driven off.
Pundits, both Israeli and Palestinian, have alleged that Israeli security forces have been unwilling to enter the Red Cross building, which the three lawmakers have turned into a de-facto Hamas political headquarters, due to fears of negative publicity that the move might have engendered.
Despite one Israeli official stating last year that he viewed the compound as enjoying “immunity,” the Red Cross has denied this assertion, explaining that the ICRC can “not prevent the Israeli authorities from taking action against them.”
When the lawmakers first requested sanctuary from the Red Cross, a spokesman for the Israeli police said that security forces did not want to detain them due to unspecified “operational reasons.”
The Red Cross believes the lawmakers to be “protected persons” under international law and stated that it does not classify Hamas as a terror organization.
It “is not up to the ICRC . . . to confer a particular status on people or organizations or to recognize their legitimacy, neither does international humanitarian law,” said Dorothea Krimitsas, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross.
ICRC Jerusalem spokeswoman Cecilia Goin told the AFP that the Red Cross is “looking into the circumstances of [Attoun’s] arrest.”