Israel detains Speaker of Palestinian parliament

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Israel's military has placed the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislature under house arrest. Aziz Dweik, a leading member of Hamas has been confined to his residence since the army surrounded his Ramallah home. An Israeli army spokesperson told the Reuters news agency that "Since Hamas is a terrorist organisation, [Dweik] is a target for arrest."

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya has responded to the action by accusing Israel of "piracy" and has urged "all Arab and international parliamentarians to condemn and denounce this crime and to secure the release of Aziz Dweik and all jailed ministers and lawmakers."

Mr Dweik's detention brings the number of Hamas government officials and MPs being detained since the end of June to 30 or 64 persons, according to varying sources. The detentions began after Palestinian militants captured an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, as part of the 2006 Israel-Gaza conflict.