For the first time in some three years, Israel arrested five senior Palestinian Authority officers Friday morning near Salfit in the West Bank. The defense establishment confirmed the number of Palestinian officers arrested, but did not reveal additional details about the circumstances of their arrest. According to the Palestinians, talks are being held between the PA and Israel in efforts to secure their release.
All five of those detained are officers in the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, and include Salfit region intelligence commander, Mohammad Abdel Hamid. The IDF also issued the Palestinians with a demand for the arrest of an additional officer who was not apprehended.
A Palestinian security source in Salfit estimated that the arrests were apparently made on the backdrop of an investigation currently being carried out by the General Intelligence Service against a man suspected of collaborating with Israel.
The PA suspects that the arrests are another attempt to weaken the PA in the shadow of the political dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. However, the PA reported that they are in contact with Israel in a bid to secure the release of those arrested.
The arrests were made at a sensitive time in relations between Israel and the PA. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday in an interview with the BBC Arabic service that there would be no peace talks with Israel as long as the settlement construction continued. He also implied that his people may adopt a new type of struggle against the occupation.
"Those who have to resist are the people, and there are different types of resistance, like in (West Bank villages of) Bilin and Naalin, where people are injured every day," he said.
He went on to point a finger at the Hamas organization. "Hamas talk about the importance of resistance, but why aren't they resisting now. There is a truce between them and Israel, and since the war in Gaza Hamas has not carried out any act of resistance."
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report