Israel Captures PA Deputy PM in Ramallah

The PA deputy prime minister, a senior Hamas terrorist, was extracted from his Ramallah home in a joint IDF-Shabak (GSS) operation. Several weekend instances of Arabs opening fire at soldiers.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz and Hillel Fendel, | updated: 00:19

The captured Hamas leader, Nasser A-Din Ahmed Shaer, was apprehended when IDF soldiers surprised him in his home early Saturday morning. According to his wife, who spoke with reporters after the raid, the Israelis broke in, searched the house, took her husband into custody and left.

The IDF Spokesman's Office released a statement saying, "Shaer is not immune despite his seniority, and the IDF will continue to act against various terrorist activists." The capture of Shaer is "part of our fight against the radical Hamas movement," an IDF spokesman told the press.

Shaer, who also serves as the PA education minister, was a key figure in the formulation of the policies of the current Hamas-led PA government. He is considered to be the most senior terrorist in Judea and Samaria ever since widespread Israeli arrests of Hamas leaders in June. Shaer was erroneously reported to have been captured in that series of arrests.

In the 1980s, IDF sources said, Shaer was active in the Muslim Brotherhood and quickly became a leader in the Hamas student organization. More recently, he was religion department head at An-Najah University in Shechem.

A spokesman for the PA, Ghazi Hamad, called the detention of Shaer part of "the Israeli aggressions aimed at toppling the Palestinian government, which was democratically elected by the people."

Closure Removed, Soldiers are Attacked
Meanwhile, the IDF has removed the closure from the Palestinian Authority residents of Judea and Samaria. The closure was declared during the war in Lebanon. 26,500 Arab providers aged 35 and older will be allowed to enter pre-1967 Israel for work purposes, the IDF announced.

Palestinian Authority terrorists opened fire at IDF reserves soldiers near Tzofim in the Shomron this morning (Sunday). The soldiers returned fire and entered the PA-controlled city of Kalkilye in pursuit, where they were attacked again with gunfire and an explosive device. No Israelis were hurt.

Hamas or Fatah gunmen also opened fire at Israeli soldiers in Jenin; no one was hurt. Further south, outside Shechem, Arabs reported one dead and three wounded; under investigation is whether the fire was directed by Arabs at IDF soldiers, or by IDF soldiers at a suspicious vehicle that tried to detour the checkpoint.

IDF forces arrested seven wanted terrorist suspects last night, as well as 1,007 PA residents who remained illegally in pre-1967 Israel overnight.

Late last week, the Hamas movement was reported to be in the midst of negotiations with Fatah, led by Mahmoud Abbas, regarding the formation of a joint coalition regime in the Palestinian Authority. Abbas is currently chairman of the PA, while the Islamist Hamas holds its ministerial posts and a majority of the parliamentary seats. Despite talks with Abbas on Friday, PA prime minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas vowed that no joint Hamas-Fatah government would be set up as long as Hamas legislators remained in Israeli jails.

Israel began to arrest Hamas leaders in the PA government following the June 24 kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas terrorists. Over 20 Hamas legislators are currently in Israeli custody, including PA speaker Aziz Dweik, several ministers, the mayors of Jenin and Kalkilyeh, and most of the members of the Jerusalem-Ramallah area Hamas faction of the PA governing body.