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Palestinian PM urges release of deputy PM detained by Israeli military

[JURIST] Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya [BBC profile] on Sunday called for the release of Deputy Prime Minister and Hamas party member Nasser Shaer, who was arrested [AP report] Saturday morning after Israeli soldiers forced entry into an apartment where Shaer and his family have been hiding for several weeks. Israeli forces took Shaer for questioning as part of its latest crackdown against Hamas [CFR backgrounder] which began after a June 25 cross-border raid when Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip abducted an Israeli soldier. It remains unknown how Israeli forces tracked down Shaer, who has been using alternate routes to visit his office and has made no public appearances since the June 25 raid. Israeli officials said Shaer was arrested because he belongs to a terrorist organization.

The Israel military arrested seven Hamas government ministers and some 20 legislators [JURIST report] on June 29, releasing one of them in July [JURIST report]. Other Palestinian lawmakers have been detained [JURIST report] in August, including the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Aziz Dweik [official profile in Arabic; JMCC profile], but Shaer is the highest ranking government official to be detained. Just last week, an Israeli military court extended Dweik's detention [JURIST report], authorizing the parliament speaker to be held until August 22. BBC News has more.

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