Israeli Army Arrests Top Hamas Official in West Bank

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Sheik Hassan Yussef, salutes as he is escorted by Israeli army soldiers out of the Ofer military jail near the West Bank town of Ramallah, Nov. 18, 2004. Credit: AP

Israel has arrested a top Hamas official in the West Bank, accusing him of inciting recent violence.

The military says it arrested Hassan Yousef on Tuesday from his house in Beitunia, near Ramallah. It marks the most high-profile arrest since a wave of unrest swept through the region a month ago.

The military said Yousef had been "actively instigating and inciting terrorism" by encouraging attacks against Israelis. Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner says, "Hamas' leaders cannot expect to propagate violence and terror from the comfort of their living rooms and pulpits of their mosques."

Yousef is a co-founder of Hamas whose son, Mosab, later spied for Israel between 1997 and 2007. He became famous for his autobiography "Son of Hamas," which was later adapted to film in the documentary "The Green Prince."

Yousef, aged 60, is considered one of the most senior Hamas officials in the West Bank. He has been arrested several times in the past by the Israel Defense Forces.

An additional 34 Palestinians in the West Bank were arrested overnight, of which 15 were from the Nablus area.

Over the past month, eight Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them stabbings. In that time, 41 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including 20 labeled by Israel as terrorist attackers, and the rest in clashes with Israeli troops. An Eritrean migrant died after being shot and beaten by a mob that mistakenly believed he was a Palestinian terrorist.

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