Israeli forces arrested one of the co-founders of the Hamas militant group Tuesday, accusing him of inciting recent violence that has resulted in the deaths of nine Israelis, many in stabbing attacks.
The military said Hassan Yousef was arrested near Ramallah. It marks the most high-profile arrest since a wave of unrest swept through the region a month ago.
The military said Yousef had been “actively instigating and inciting terrorism” by encouraging attacks against Israelis. Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told the Associated Press, “Hamas’ leaders cannot expect to propagate violence and terror from the comfort of their living rooms and pulpits of their mosques.”
Yousef’s eldest son, Mosab, spied for Israel between 1997 and 2007.
Over the past month, nine Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them stabbings. In that time, 41 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including 20 labeled by Israel as attackers, and the rest in clashes with Israeli troops. An Eritrean migrant died after being shot and beaten by a mob that mistakenly believed he was a Palestinian attacker.
Also Tuesday, Israeli forces demolished the Hebron home of Maher Hashlamoun, a Palestinian who rammed his car into 25-year-old Dalia Lemkus in the West Bank and stabbed her several times last year Hashlamon was shot and killed.
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Hashlamoun’s wife told Palestinian radio that soldiers evacuated their three story building and demolished the third floor apartment where her family lived. Such demolitions are often carried out by Israeli forces with the aim of deterring future attacks.
Lerner said the demolition “sends a clear message that there is a personal price to pay when you are involved in terror.”
Meanwhile, Palestinan Foreign Minister Riyad Malki told Palestinian radio that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would arrive in the region later Tuesday to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Ban has issued a video message ahead of the visit calling for calm on both sides. He said he understood the Palestinian frustration but that violence would only harm their legitimate aspirations. He said to the Israelis that he understood their concerns and fears due to the security deterioration, but added there was no military solution to the situation.
“When children are afraid to go to school, when anyone on the street is a potential victim, security is rightly your immediate priority,” Ban said, addressing Israelis. “But walls, checkpoints, harsh responses by the security forces and house demolitions cannot sustain the peace and safety that you need and must have.”