The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) arrested a top Hamas official in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday night, the IDF announced today.
The IDF said Sheikh Jamal Taweel recently partook in organizing riots, incitement to violence and had worked to reestablish a local Hamas headquarters in Ramallah.
Taweel was arrested during an operation carried out by the Shin Bet and the IDF’s Duvdevan Unit.
Israel is seeking to block attempts by Hamas, an Islamist political party that rules the Gaza Strip, to politically capitalize on its 11-day conflict with Israel last month.
The militant group has some support in the West Bank, and Israeli authorities have cooperated closely with the Palestinian Authority (PA) to root out Hamas operatives there. Any inroads by militants in the occupied West Bank could pose a significant threat to major Israeli population centers.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ secular party, Fatah, continues to suffer flagging support among those Palestinians who see little evidence of political will to challenge Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements and continued blockade of Gaza — both of which are illegal under international law and have significantly reduced hopes for a two-state solution.
Abbas, 85, again postponed elections in April, easing some concerns over a potential Hamas political win for now. This year’s elections were scheduled to be the first since 2006, when the militant party won broad support and took power in Gaza.
Following last month’s conflict, US President Joe Biden vowed to back an international effort to fund the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip without allowing Hamas to benefit. How US officials intend to accomplish that remains to be seen.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month said the Biden administration would reopen its consulate in Jerusalem — closed by the Trump administration in 2019 — in order to reestablish ties with the PA.
Blinken’s announcement came after he met with Abbas in Ramallah last week.