Israeli police arrested and then released leading Palestinian moderate and peace campaigner Sari Nusseibeh on Wednesday morning, accusing him of hiring "illegal" Palestinian laborers to work at the university he heads.
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said border police on patrol stopped to check the documents of four Palestinian workers at Al Quds University that they believed to be what they termed "illegal".
The workers fled to the university's administration building, and Nusseibeh came out and told the police he was responsible for the men, Ben-Ruby said.
The police arrested all five, he said. After several hours, he was freed.
Nusseibeh, president of the Jerusalem university, has been working to gather support for a peace plan he put together with Ami Ayalon, former chief of Israel's Shin Bet security service. The plan envisions a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and the two have collected tens of thousands of signatures supporting it.
The grassroots plan has gained international prominence, with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan endorsing it and US Secretary of State Colin Powell meeting with Nusseibeh and Ayalon last year to give them encouragement.
Before his release, Nusseibeh's spokesman, Dimitri Diliani, said Nusseibeh was in his office Wednesday morning when Israeli border police arrived on campus and told him he was under arrest.
"When he asked why, they told him he would find out later," Diliani said. "They didn't say where he was being taken."
Diliani said he saw the border police jeep drive Nusseibeh to a detention center in northern Jerusalem.
For his part, Nusseibeh's lawyer, Jawad Bolous, said the police had initially refused to let him see his client. He was later allowed to meet with Nusseibeh, who told him he had yet to be questioned more than 2 1/2 hours after his arrest.
Israel's Labor Party lawmaker Yuli Tamir also came to the detention center to work for Nusseibeh's release.
Elsewhere, in a fresh incursion into Bethlehem Wednesday morning, Israeli soldiers, accompanied by tanks and military jeeps, stormed the “Wadi Shaheen” neighborhood and afterwards blockaded several houses, where Palestinian citizen Essa Dakhel Allah, 25, was arrested. He was led to an undisclosed place.
Meanwhile, in Tulkarem, Israeli troops arrested overnight Palestinian Lauí Hamarsha from the Tulkarem refugee camp, according to Palestinian security sources.
The Palestinian security directorate reported that an Israeli military troop broke into several citizens’ houses, where Hamarsha was arrested and was later led to an undisclosed destination. According to WAFA, Wa'el al-Madani from the city was also arrested and taken to an undisclosed location.
In Jenin, in northern West Bank, Israeli forces imposed a tight curfew on the town of Ya'bad southwest of the city, witnesses said, cited by WAFA news agency. They said that the Israeli army incurred into the town and announced by megaphones that a curfew is imposed until further notice.
In the meantime, Israeli military naval boats opened Tuesday a hail of gun fire towards Palestinian fishing boats at the Al-Sudania area, northwest of Gaza city.
Palestinian security sources said that there were casualties.
Elsewhere, five dunums of wheat and grain were set on fire Tuesday as well, east of Al Burij, located in the middle of the Gaza Strip. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)