HEBRON, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Israeli troops on Thursday seized a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament, the fifth to be rearrested recently after serving previous prison terms, local officials said.
MP Khalil al-Rabai was arrested at his home in the village of Yata, south of the city of Hebron, early on Thursday, municipal council officials said. Hamas sources said that his house was also thoroughly searched.
The Israeli military had no immediate comment.
Rabai was released last year after three years in an Israeli prison.
On Tuesday, troops arrested Hamas MP Mohammad al-Tal in a similar dawn raid on his home in the village of Zakariya, also near Hebron. Like Rabai, Tal was set free last year after a three-year stretch in jail.
On December 1, Israeli troops arrested Naif al-Rajub just months after he was freed after four years in prison. The former Palestinian minister for religious affairs had been released in June.
In November, Hamas lawmaker Mahmud al-Ramahi was rearrested, weeks after his colleague Hatem Qafaish was seized, Hamas said.
Israel rounded up more than 60 elected Hamas officials in June 2006 after Gaza militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a deadly cross-border raid. Many of those officials were freed in batches toward the end of 2009.
With Rabai’s arrest the number of Hamas MPs in Israeli custody is now believed to be 13.
The militant Islamist movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, has demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinians, including several top militants convicted of deadly attacks, in exchange for Shalit who is being held in a secret location in the coastal enclave.
The last round of talks over Shalit, mediated by Egypt and Germany, ground to a halt late last year when Israel presented an offer to which Hamas has not yet officially responded.
Israel and Hamas blame each other for failing to reach a deal.