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Israeli forces detain Palestinian minister - Hamas

By Staff
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GAZA, Apr 6 (Reuters) Israeli soldiers took into custody a member of the new Hamas-led Palestinian cabinet today at a roadblock on the outskirts of Jerusalem, Hamas sources said.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment.

Israel Radio said Khaled Abu Arafa, an independent who serves as minister of state for Jerusalem affairs, was detained because as a resident of Arab East Jerusalem, he is banned by Israel from entering areas in the West Bank administered by the Palestinian Authority.

Abu Arafa was stopped at an impromptu roadblock that Israeli soldiers positioned in the occupied territory, north of Jerusalem, Hamas sources said.

''They stopped the car and asked the minister to get out and when he refused they forced him by pointing the rifle in his face,'' one of the sources said.

Abu Arafa was en route to the office of former Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ziad for a handover ceremony and was taken by soldiers to an unknown location, the sources said.

Hamas, sworn to Israel's destruction, held its first cabinet yesterday following its victory in the January 25 Palestinian election.

Reuters SHB SP1353

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