Hamas members arrested in West Bank
The Palestinian security apparatus has arrested dozens of Hamas members in Nablus and its surrounding towns and villages in the aftermath of the funeral of a Hamas military leader whose remains had been handed to the Palestinians for burial.
As an apparent confidence building measure, the Israelis have been handing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) the remains of dozens of bodies of Palestinians it has killed, kept with Israeli authorities for years.
Last Wednesday, the Israelis handed the PNA the remains of the body of Mohammad Al Hanbali, who was the leader of Ezz Al Deen Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, in Nablus on Al Tayebah Crossing in Tulkarem.
His body was carried in a PNA ambulance to Nablus but the funeral was delayed for some time because of disputes between Hamas in Nablus and PNA officials who initially threatened Hamas members in Nablus with arrest in relation to the funeral procedures. At issue was the Hamas desire to conduct the ceremony its own way without PNA involvement.
The officer said that Hamas members removed the Palestinian flag wrapped around the remains and replaced it with the Hamas green flag, before insisting that the funeral be conducted on Hamas’ terms.
Al Hanbali’s funeral was delayed for at least two hours, during which the PNA security apparatus arrested at least 40 Hamas members from Nablus. The officer stated that he regretted the “childish” Hamas behaviour which gives a bad image to the Palestinian martyrs.
A senior Hamas official told Gulf News that the PNA security officials had instructed Hamas members and supporters taking part in the funeral to avoid raising the Hamas flag during the funeral and to avoid all chants and songs that would harm the PNA.
The Hamas official stated that the organization never agreed to such demands and the arrests were conducted in precaution.
The official said that the hot arguments sometimes escalated to hand quarrels which the PNA security personnel ended in their favour by using their authority and superior status in the West Bank.
The Hamas official said that the since the first Palestinian Intifadah (uprising), Hamas has had its own rituals and procedures for funerals and those procedures are unchangeable. He also claimed that as a prominent leader, Al Hanbali deserved those procedures be enacted for him.
The Hamas official said that it was true that the martyr’s remains were handed to the PNA by the Israelis but that does not give the PNA the sole right to handle the remains as they wish.