Abbas orders release of Hamas woman prisoner

Jan, 19, 2011 | AFP

Palestinian Tamam Abu Suud is greeted by her family after her release


NABLUS, Palestinian Territories — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday ordered the release of a Hamas woman jailed over her alleged ties to a political murder plot, security sources said.

Abbas “decided to free Tamam Abu Suud in response to her request to be released and pardoned,” a Palestinian Authority security source told AFP.

Abu Suud was arrested in November in connection with what Abbas’s security forces said was an alleged plot by the Islamist movement Hamas to assassinate the governor of Nablus, Jibrin al-Bakri. She was never charged.

“Her release was agreed after Abu Suud admitted preparing plans targeting Palestinian national institutions and leaders as part of a Hamas cell,” the source said.

She was freed on Wednesday afternoon.

Her release was a humanitarian gesture, the source said, while warning Hamas “against the exploitation of Palestinian women and children to carry out its agenda which targets national interests and principles.”

Abu Suud, 52, thanked Abbas during a press conference with the governor she was accused of trying to help kill.

“I thank president Abu Mazen, who generously took the decision to free me even though I was accused and should have been tried,” she said, using Abbas’s nom-de-guerre.

“I offer my apologies to the Palestinian people and to the governor,” she added, flanked by Bakri.

Abu Suud, who preaches to Muslim women in the northern West Bank town of Nablus, called on the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, “to reconcile with the Fatah brothers so we can live in peace.”

Bakri accused Hamas of having “abused” Abu Suud “in the name of religion.”

“We call on Hamas to stop their destructive plans, which exacerbate divisions,” he said.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described the Palestinian Authority’s actions regarding Abu Suud as “immoral.”

He said her “apology had been extracted under pressure even though she was not implicated in anything.”

In November, Palestinian Authority officials said a number of suspects from Hamas had been arrested in connection with the plot, in a charge strongly denied by the rival faction which rules Gaza.

Hamas and Fatah are bitter opponents which have carried out periodic arrests of each other’s members, often holding detainees without charge or trial and routinely trading allegations of prisoner abuse.

Their ties have been tense for several years. But resentment boiled over after Hamas won elections in 2006 and, a year later, seized control of the Gaza Strip after deadly streetfighting with Fatah.

Since then, the Palestinian territories have been effectively split in two, with Abbas’s rule confined to the West Bank. The parties held reconciliation talks last September and November but without any progress.

Relations were further frayed after the revelation in leaked US diplomatic cables that Fatah had urged Israel to attack Hamas in 2007.

AFP: Abbas orders release of Hamas woman prisoner.

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