The head of a Palestinian Presidential Security force, 'Force 17', was
taken prisoner by Israeli forces Tuesday at an Israeli checkpoint
outside the city of Nablus in the West Bank, Palestinian sources
reported. General Mahmoud Damra, taken by the Israeli forces to an
unknown location, was apparently appointed to the security force in
May. According to Israeli sources, prior to his appointment in May,
Damra had been in hiding since an Israeli assassination attempt against
him in 2001.
An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed that Damra had been seized, saying only, "I can confirm he has been detained".
Force 17 was established by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to protect him on his trips abroad.
According to Israeli sources, General Damra has been wanted by Israel for six years, accused of taking part in the planning of attacks against Israel. Though no specific evidence against him has been presented at this time, his association with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Fateh party, is apparently the reason behind his capture by Israeli forces.
Over 80 members of the Palestinian government, including legislators and ministers, have been taken prisoner by Israeli forces since June, in an apparent attempt by Israel to implement a 'bloodless coup' against the democratically-elected government of Hamas by seizing enough legislators, ministers and officials to render the functioning of the government impossible. Israeli forces have also bombed dozens of government buildings, including the Foreign Ministry in Gaza, and have completely destroyed the Palestinian government complex in Nablus.