Top Hamas official seized by Israel

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The West Bank territory

On Saturday, in a pre-dawn raid, Israeli soldiers seized Nasser al-Shaer at his home in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Al-Shaer is the Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister and a top official of the Hamas militant group.

The Israeli military confirmed the detention of al-Shaer. Israel has been cracking down on the Hamas movement, which does not recognise Israel, for the last seven weeks. Al-Shaer is the highest ranking Hamas member to be detained. 30 members of Palestinian National Authority parliament have also been detained during the crack-down.

Nasser al-Shaer, a former university professor, is known as a pragmatist in Hamas. Palestinian officials accused Israel of undermining their efforts to form a broad government coalition.

The West Bank was captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered by the United Nations and most countries to be under Israeli occupation. Some Israelis and various other groups prefer to refer to it as "disputed" rather than "occupied" territory.