Over the weekend, Dr Nasser A-din al-Shaar, the Palestinian Authority's deputy prime minister and education minister, joined the list of senior Hamas members abducted by Israeli forces during the last month and a half.
Sunday evening, Mahmoud al-Ramahi, a senior Hamas member and secretary-general of the Palestinian parliament was also taken into custody. As of now the colleagues of Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Knesset speaker Dalia Iitzik, are being held in the only democratic basement in the Middle East along with a long list of other Palestinian legislators.
Rationality of Israeli policy
For those seeking some rationality in this Israeli policy, there are two main assumptions:
The abduction of senior Palestinian officials is aimed at securing bargaining chips that would accelerate the release of Israeli abducted soldier, Gilad Shalit.
This assumption cannot be based on much, because, so far, these ostentatious abductions have not succeeded in bringing about any change in the demands made by Shalit's abductors. Their demand was and remains the release of female prisoners, minors and long term prisoners.
Furthermore, if Shalit's abductors, were really interested in seeing prominent Palestinian leaders freed, Israel's prisons already had several such figures long before this latest wave of abductions. Among those leaders are Tanzim leader and the most popular Palestinian figure Marwan Barghuti; Secretary General of the Popular Front Ahmed Saadat and Hamas leader in the West Bank, Sheikh Hassan Yussef.
These names were not included in the group's demands and there's no reason to assume that a growing list would change their stance in this matter.
Reinstating moderate Fatah movement
The other assumption is, that capturing leading Hamas politicians – coupled with massive pressure by Israel and the international community on the Palestinian Authority since the Hamas electoral victory - will undermine the Islamic movement and reinstate the moderate Fatah movement.
However this assumption is also baseless, in part because experience has shown that as long as the Palestinian people sense an outside force, particularly Israel and the US, is attempting to influence their political system, their support in Hamas is only strengthened.
Eliminating every sign of sovereignty
What remains therefore, is a third option that is shockingly beginning to appear as the most realistic one. Israel is not interested in either radical or moderate Palestinians, but is rather seeking to eliminate every sign of sovereignty, that would ultimatley drag Palestinian authority into absolute chaos.
In light of the repeated attacks on parliamentary buildings in Gaza and Ramallah, as well as the arrest of almost a third of the Hamas government's ministers, there's quite a bit of rationality in the voices being heard by people such as the deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hassan Harisha and the former Finance Minister Dr Salam Fayad, who are calling to dismantle the authority and return the keys to Israel. If Israel is so eager to take these keys, they say – then take them back and enjoy.
Orly Noy is a political commentator and presenter for Kol Hashalom radio