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Palestinians Detain Hamas Students

April 15, 1998

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) _ Palestinian police have detained nine members of the Islamic University student council, apparently for helping organize a rally critical of Yasser Arafat’s government.

The nine, activists in the youth movement of the militant Hamas group, were detained Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, said Sami Abu Zahria, spokesman for the Hamas student party.

Dozens of Hamas activists, including several senior leaders, have been arrested in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the March 29 death of Mohiyedine Sharif, the chief bombmaker for Hamas.

The Palestinian Authority has said Sharif was killed by an associate in a fight over money and position. Hamas has disputed the findings and accused Israel and the Palestinian Authority of complicity in Sharif’s death.

Among the students detained was Islamic University council president Iman Taha, whose father, Mohammed Taha, is a Hamas founder. The younger Taha has been jailed four times by the Palestinian Authority.

A coalition of Jordanian political parties urged Arafat on Wednesday to end the crackdown on Hamas activists and free its detained leaders. The 13-party coalition warned that stifling Hamas would ``lead to Palestinian infighting which will benefit only the Zionist enemy and its allies.″

Also Wednesday, about 400 Palestinians marched for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The march was part of a campaign to gather 1 million signatures by May 14 _ the 50th anniversary of the founding of Israel, according to the Western calendar _ to put pressure on Israel to release the prisoners.

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