Photo: Reuters
Nasser al-Deen Shaer - PA education minister
Photo: Reuters
UN 'troubled' by Hamas legislators' arrests
Special envoy to the Middle East expresses concern over Hamas leaders' arrests in West Bank. IDF sources: We have not seen the last of these arrests

The UN's newly appointed special envoy to the Middle East, Michael Williams, said Thursday he was "troubled" by Israel's arrest of the Palestinian education minister and other Hamas legislators.


"I'm troubled when I see Israeli soldiers arresting Palestinian legislators. I'm troubled that the education minister was arrested," said Williams.



"Of course legislators cannot be immune from the law. But what worries me is that in most cases, as I understand it, there haven't been any charges...Let alone trials," added Williams, referring to Israel's arrest of Hamas lawmakers last year.


Israeli troops in the West Bank arrested more than 30 senior Hamas members early Thursday, in a wide-scale operation. The roundup came hours after Israeli planes struck what the military said were money-changing offices and other businesses in Gaza used to channel funds to Hamas.


"We have information about many other Hamas officials engaged in terror," said IDF sources Thursday. "We have not seen the last of these arrests."


IDF forces entered several West Bank cities Wednesday night, arresting dozens of Hamas leaders, including the Palestinian Minister of Education, Nasser al-Deen Shaer.


Shaer was arrested in the past with connection to the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, but was later released. Others arrested included Hamed al-Bitawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and Adly Yaish, the Hamas mayor of Nablus.


"Most of those arrested will be questioned in regards to their affiliation with the 'Change and Reform' faction which we consider as Hamas," said IDF sources.


"They facilitated terrorist organizations in various ways," added the source, "and we intend to indict them."


Previous arrests operations resulted in 60 Hamas members being held for questioning, 38 of whom were indicted for membership in Hamas.


AP and Reuters contributed to this article


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