'Israelis want Palestinian ethnic cleansing'
By Motasem A Dalloul in Gaza
Wednesday 30 August 2006, 11:47 Makka Time, 8:47 GMT
Israel has stepped up its policy of forcibly detaining members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
On August 20, Israeli forces seized Mahmoud al-Ramhi, Hamas secretary and the fourth-highest ranking official in the Palestinian legislature. Two days later, an Israeli court charged Abd al-Aziz Dweik, the speaker of parliament, with membership in an outlawed organisation - the Islamist movement and governing party, Hamas. To date, Israel has detained 30 Hamas politicians and five cabinet ministers, including Nasser Shaer, the deputy prime minister.
Thirty other senior and mid-level members of Hamas were also seized on June 29 as part of an Israeli campaign against the Islamist movement following the capture of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit by fighters on the border of the Gaza Strip on June 25.