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Founder of Hamas Under House Arrest

Mideast: Arafat acts against the militant group's spiritual mentor 'to safeguard the ... Palestinian people,' officials say.

June 24, 2002|From Times Wire Services

GAZA CITY — The Palestinian Authority placed the founder and spiritual mentor of the Islamic militant group Hamas under house arrest here today, Palestinian security officials said.

The move against Sheik Ahmed Yassin came after the Palestinians arrested dozens of Hamas members in the Gaza Strip on Sunday.

"It was decided, starting from tonight, to impose house arrest on Sheik Ahmed Yassin to safeguard the ultimate national interests of the Palestinian people," a security official said. "The decision was issued from high up, from President Yasser Arafat."

Abdel-Hamid Yassin, a son of the cleric, said Palestinian Authority security service units had taken up two positions within 200 yards of their home.

The last time Yassin was placed under house arrest, in December, a Hamas supporter was killed in an ensuing clash with Palestinian police in Gaza City.

Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist, and militants belonging to the movement have claimed responsibility for many attacks against Israelis, including a bus bombing Tuesday that killed 19 people and the bomber in southern Jerusalem.

Hours after Yassin's house arrest was announced, Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car carrying suspected Palestinian militants near Rafah, in southern Gaza, killing six people. Their identities were not immediately known.

Israel Radio said the attack was the latest strike under a policy to deliberately target and kill Palestinian militants behind suicide bombings.

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