Al Aqsa gunmen give up weapons (archives)
Photo: AP
Report: Some 300 gunmen accept Israel's amnesty deal
Palestinian security official says all but three al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades gunmen surrender weapons, swear off violence as part of deal with Israel

More than 300 West Bank gunmen have so far surrendered their weapons as part of an amnesty deal with Israel, a senior Palestinian security official said Sunday.


The gunmen included in the deal are members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent offshoot of moderate President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.


Al-Aqsa was founded at the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in 2000, and its members carried out scores of shooting attacks.


After the fall of Gaza to the Islamic militant Hamas in June, Abbas said he would no longer permit militias to operate in the West Bank, a Fatah stronghold.


Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel and opposes peace talks, said more than 400 of its activists in the West Bank have been detained since June.


At the same time, Israel's military offered amnesty to gunmen with ties to Fatah, which recognizes Israel and advocates the creation of a Palestinian state alongside it.


The senior Palestinian security official said all but three Al Aqsa members have surrendered their weapons and sworn off violence, as part of the arrangement.


He said 25 members of the violent Islamic Jihad group in the West Bank town of Jenin also asked for amnesty, but that leaders of the group opposed the idea. Islamic Jihad's ideology is similar to that of Hamas.


The Palestinian official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to discuss the issue with reporters.


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