Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ordered security forces to carry out criminal, rather than civilian arrests of Hamas senior officials, so that they can be tried according to the Terror-Prevention Act, sources in the Justice Ministry told Ynet Thursday. The detainees launched a hunger strike.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres said in an interview to CNN that Israel intended to submit indictments against the Hamas members under arrest.
Peres was asked in the interview why the Hamas top figures were arrested. He answered by saying that their arrest is not arbitrary, and added that they will stand trial and they will be able to defend themselves.
Meanwhile, Central Command Chief Yair Naveh said that Hamas members would not be used as bargaining chips, adding that they would be charged.
Some of Hamas members under arrest (Photo: AFP)
"The arrested senior figures are tied to financing and aiding terror attacks. Just this year Hamas killed six civilians in Judea and Samaria, kidnapped Nuriel Sasson a few months ago, and carried out shooting attacks in roads in the last few days," Naveh said.
Shortly after the establishment of the Hamas government, sources at the Attorney General's Office began consultations on how to act against Hamas on the legal level.
In recent days a request was received by the political rank in Jerusalem and the Shin Bet to look into the possibility of arresting senior members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
In general there are a number of accepted paths in such a case – the first is an administrative detention, usually carried out when there is a shortage of witnesses, or when there is a desire not to expose intelligence information. The second path is the criminal arrests, requiring a higher level of eye witnesses, beyond reasonable doubt.
It was this path that was chosen in accordance with the Terror Prevention Act. The Justice Ministry spokesman explained that all of the arrestees were Hamas officials, which is a terrorist organization, and their membership in a terror organization is a severe violation.
Sources in the ministry say the arrests could have taken place two months ago, but the decision to arrest them had to be taken by the political rank, and was therefore only carried out tonight, apparently following recent security developments.