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Hamas official taken into custody for failing to leave Israel

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Abu Tir and three others have appealed to the Supreme Court to stop deportation
  • Released from prison in May, he was arrested after Hamas capture of Israeli soldier
  • Abu Tir is accused of disloyalty to Israel for being on Palestinian legislative council

Jerusalem (CNN) -- A senior Hamas official who was released from prison last month has been taken into custody again for failing to leave East Jerusalem as he had been ordered to do, Israeli police spokesman Shmulik Ben Rubi confirmed to CNN Wednesday.

Rubi said Muhammad Abu Tir, who was arrested along with 60 other Hamas members in 2006 after the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Palestinians, and was taken in for questioning in Jerusalem.

Abu Tir was released from prison in May. He and three other senior Hamas officials -- who had also been arrested in 2006 and were released from prison within the past 18 months -- were stripped of their Israeli identity cards and Israeli residency and were told by the government to leave East Jerusalem because their membership in the Palestinian legislative council constituted disloyalty to Israel.

According to the human rights organization Adalah -- which means "justice" in Arabic -- the men filed a petition for an injunction against the order to the Israeli Supreme Court on June 15 to stop their deportation.

Hassan Jabareen, Adalah's general director, said that Israel's move against the men could ultimately "be dangerous for all Palestinians in Jerusalem since Israel can easily revoke their residency based on their legitimate political affiliations or activities."

"International law prohibits the occupying power from demanding loyalty from the occupied people," Jabareen said in the June 15 statement.

Ahmad Atoun, a Palestinian parliament member and one of the other three men threatened with deportation, told CNN June 21 the act "violates all international declarations and United Nations, Geneva Conventions constitutions and ... even ... contradicts the Israeli law itself.

"We are the original people of this holy city. We were born in it and lived in it and it is the center of our lives and we do not carry any other citizenship and we have nowhere else to go," Atoun said. "In it we grew and in Jerusalem we will live and die."

Shalit has been held captive since June 25, 2006, when Palestinian militants from Gaza, including Hamas, captured him. The militants tunneled into Israel and attacked an Israeli army outpost near the Gaza-Israel-Egypt border, killing two soldiers in the assault.

Israel immediately launched a military incursion into Gaza to rescue Shalit, then age 19, but failed to free him.

Since being imprisoned by Hamas, Shalit has not been allowed any contact with the outside world, nor any visits by the Red Cross. Details of his incarceration and physical condition remain unknown.

In October 2009, Hamas released a tape of Shalit as a proof of life, in which he urges the Israeli government to do more for his safe release.

Several prisoner-swap deals between Israel and Hamas to pave the way for Shalit's release have failed.