Israel Defense Forces soldiers from the Duchifat battalion on Saturday night arrested Palestinian Parliament Speaker, Dr. Abdel Aziz Duaik, in Ramallah.
IDF officials said that Duaik was the most senior Hamas politician arrested so far. He was taken into interrogation by security forces.
Palestinian security sources told Ynet that about 15 IDF jeeps arrived at the neighborhood where Duaik lives, not far from the Muqataa. The soldiers besieged the building, and shortly afterwards arrested Duaik. Eyewitnesses told Ynet that equipment and computers were taken from his home.
Duaik's arrest followed a series of failed attempts to arrest him as part of the wave of arrests
in which most Hamas leaders in the territories were detained following the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
More than 60 Hamas leaders are being held in Israeli prisons today, among them government ministers, parliament members, mayors and local organization leaders. According to estimations, the aim of Saturday night's arrest was to pressure Hamas after in recent days it appeared the negotiations to release Shalit was facing difficulties in light of the developments in the northern arena.
Hamas officials hinted once again in the past few days that they are interested in connecting the Gilad Shalit issue to the issue of the two kidnapped soldiers in Lebanon, something which Israel has been avoiding.
In the past two weeks, Egypt reportedly raised a proposal to move Shalit to its hands or to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' hands in exchange for a commitment by Israel to release Palestinian prisoners. According to estimations, the proposal referred to 700 prisoners, in addition to the release of senior Hamas members jailed in Israel.
Efrat Weiss contributed to the report