Hassan Youssef, the leader of Hamas in the West Bank and one of the terror group’s founding members, was arrested Friday morning at his house in Ramallah by Israeli security forces.
In response to a query by The Times of Israel, a security source confirmed the arrest and alleged that Youssef had been involved in “renewed Hamas activity.” No public charges have yet been filed.
The Shin Bet domestic security service, which is responsible for counterterrorism activities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, declined to comment.
Since helping found the Hamas terror movement in the 1980s, Youssef has been arrested numerous times and spent years in Israeli prisons. While still behind bars in 2006, he was elected to the Palestinian parliament.
Hamas has consistently claimed that Youssef is only active in its political wing, not its military wing, and has no involvement in terrorist activities. Both branches of the terror group avowedly seek to destroy Israel.
In a statement condemning Youssef’s arrest, Hamas claimed that Israel had arrested the West Bank commander for purely political reasons.
The rival Fatah and Hamas movements have been at odds since 2007, when a bloody struggle for control of Gaza led to Hamas expelling the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from the coastal enclave. Several rounds of unity talks over the past 13 years to reconcile Fatah and Hama have failed to bridge the gaps between them.
Read More: Times of Israel