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Israel AG says arrested Hamas leaders won’t be held as unlawful combatants
Israel AG says arrested Hamas leaders won’t be held as unlawful combatants

[JURIST] Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz [official profile] has said that a group of two dozen Hamas MPs and ministers who were detained [JURIST report] Thursday will not be held in administrative detention [B'Tselem backgrounder] under the Incarceration of Unlawful Combatants Law [PDF text]. Mazuz said he will instead use standard criminal warrants under the Prevention of Terror Ordinance [text]. Mazuz said they will likely be charged with membership in or leadership of a terrorist organization. By using normal criminal procedures rather than the much-maligned Unlawful Combatants Law [academic backgrounder; JURIST commentary], any Hamas official arrested will be summoned before a judge within 96 hours of arrest, will be tried before a military tribunal, and will enjoy all normal criminal legal protections.

Meanwhile Israeli officials on Friday stripped a Hamas cabinet minister and three Hamas MPs of their East Jerusalem residency rights, saying the four were ordered to sever their alliance with Hamas in May. AP reports that lawyers for the four men, who were among those arrested Thursday, will appeal their detentions to Israel's Supreme Court. Also Friday, as protesters marched against the Israeli offensive into the Gaza strip [AP report], Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said the arrests were "meant to hijack the [Palestinian] government's position, but we say no positions will be hijacked, no governments will fall."

Responding to the worsening Middle East situation, the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States all urged Israel and the Palestinians to step back [UN press release] and use diplomacy instead. BBC News has more. Haaretz has local coverage.

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