The Israeli military court of Ofer near the West Bank city of Ramallah
extended, on Thursday, the detention of 16 Palestinian law makers taken
prisoners by the Israeli army during the past two months. The speaker
of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Dr. Aziz Dweik and
another 18 lawmakers and ministers were adjourned to September 12.

Since the beginning of the Israeli offensive on Gaza Strip on June 26, Israeli army troops arrested 41 legislators.  37 of the arrested Legislators are members of Hamas, three are members of Fatah and one is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Several Hamas ministers and mayors were also arrested following the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from an Israeli military base south of the Gaza Strip.  An Israeli court first charged Dr. Dweik, on August 23, with membership and activity in “an outlawed organization”, referring to the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas.

So far, more than one third of the Palestinian legislature and the government are held in Israeli jails without most of the without trial.  Local observers accuse Israel of planning to topple the Hamas-Government by creating a constitutional void.

Hamas formed the Palestinian government in February after it won a majority in the second Palestinian parliamentary elections last January, in one of the most free and democratic elections in the Middle East.