Israel again arrests Hamas lawmaker in West Bank

Badr was the third Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament arrested this year.

Hebron: The Israeli Army rearrested a Hamas lawmaker on Thursday, more than a year after he was released from prison, relatives and Palestinian security officials said.

Mohammed Maher Badr, 52, was taken away by troops from his home in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, they said. He had been freed in November 2009 after a previous spell in custody.

"I can confirm that he was arrested for involvement in the Hamas terrorist organisation," a military spokeswoman told a news agency.

Badr was the third Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament arrested this year.

Earlier this month the military seized MP Azzam Salhab and in January they arrested lawmaker Jamal Natshe, both Hamas members are Hebron residents and had been released from Israeli custody five months earlier.

Since October Israel has rearrested eight Hamas lawmakers and one former minister, who were among a total of 64 officials of the militant Islamic movement it rounded up in 2006 after Gaza militants seized Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Badr was one of the original 64.

Shalit remains captive somewhere in Gaza, and Hamas has demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for freeing him.

It was not clear if the latest arrests were linked to Israeli public pressure on the government to secure Shalit`s release as the fifth anniversary of his June 2006 capture approaches.

Today a Gazan engineer, Dirar Abu Sisi, who was snatched from Ukraine appeared before an Israeli court as officials confirmed he was interrogated over the missing soldier.

Germany`s Spiegel magazine has reported that Israeli agents snatched him because they believed he had valuable information about the whereabouts of Shalit. He denies having any such knowledge.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak today said that although Abu Sisi had no "direct" ties with Shalit, he had "intimate information" about him.

Talks between Hamas and Israel over Shalit, mediated by Egypt and Germany, ground to a halt in late 2009. The two sides blame each other for failing to clinch an exchange deal.

PTI

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