Israeli troops arrested one of the top West Bank leaders of Islamist group Hamas in an overnight raid near Ramallah, accusing him inciting terrorism, the army said on Tuesday.
«During the night, forces of the army and the Shin Bet (internal security service) arrested Hassan Yusef, a Hamas leader, in Beitunia, southwest of Ramallah,» an army statement said.
Yusef’s arrest was confirmed by the Palestinian security services.
«Yusef has been arrested and imprisoned several times in the past. He has actively initiated and incited terrorism and publicly encouraged attacks on Israelis,» the army statement said.
The arrest came as an Israeli soldier was stabbed during clashes near the West Bank city of Hebron in the latest example of a wave of violence that has plagued Israel and the Palestinian Territories for several weeks.
The alleged assailant in the attack was shot dead, the military and medics said.
Clashes had also erupted earlier in the day in nearby Hebron as Israeli troops destroyed the home of a Palestinian jailed for a deadly knife attack last year.
The unrest erupted in Jerusalem a month ago over tensions surrounding a Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews and Muslims. It soon spread to Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and then to the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.
Over the past month, nine Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them stabbings. In that time, dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire including those labeled by Israel as attackers and others during clashes with Israeli troops.
An Eritrean migrant also died after being shot and beaten by a mob that mistakenly believed he was a Palestinian attacker.
Yusef, who was a founding member of Hamas in the late 1980s, has spent years in Israeli jails. He was elected to the Palestinian parliament from prison in 2006 and was only released from his last stint in jail in June.
Hamas has always said that Yusef works only for its political wing, not its military wing.
Yusef made headlines during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, of 2000-2005 when he renounced his son after he admitted to informing for the Shin Bet under the codename Green Prince.