Israel Releases Hamas 'Parliament' Speaker

Israel Releases Hamas
# 10 June 2015 04:15 (UTC +04:00)

Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was arrested on June 16, 2014 as Israel staged a massive manhunt for three teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Sha'er, who were snatched from a road in Gush Etzion by Hamas terrorists.

During the search, which lasted until June 30 when their bodies were found, Israel arrested hundreds of terror suspects, most of them members of Hamas.

The crackdown - the biggest in a decade - was followed by a surge of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, the Islamist movement's stronghold, which ultimately led to a 50-day war in and around the coastal enclave, the third in six years.

That war led to the discovery by Israel of a vast network of terror tunnelsinfiltrating into Israel, which were neutralized, preventing a major attack against Israeli civilians along the border with Gaza.

According the Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoners' Club, 12 of the 130 MPs in the PLC are being held by Israel, including Dweik.

The council has not met since 2007 following a major rift between the Fatah movement of PA president Mahmoud Abbas and its Hamas rival, which saw the Islamist movement forcibly expelling Fatah loyalists from Gaza in a bloody takeover.

Abbas himself has overstayed his term as PA President by around a decade, after refusing to hold elections since winning the last poll in 2005.