Hamas admit official detained by Saudi Arabia

Hamas announced Sept. 9 that Saudi Arabia has been unjustly detaining since April 4 one of its most prominent leaders, the Saudi-Hamas liaison officer Mohammed al-Khodari.

This comes as part of a campaign of arrests, including several Palestinians residing in Riyadh. Hamas’ announcement after five months of silence exposed the heightened tensions between Riyadh and Hamas.

Hamas said in a statement on its official website that Khodari, 81, had been in charge of managing relations with Saudi Arabia for two decades and has occupied senior leadership positions in the movement. It noted that his arrest is strange and reprehensible, and demanded his release and the release of all Palestinian detainees held by Saudi Arabia.

On Sept. 7, the Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a statement that it could not give an exact figure for the number of Palestinian detainees, but had obtained the names of about 60 detainees. “Estimates within the Palestinian community in Saudi Arabia say that the number far exceeds this,” the statement added.

The human rights monitor said detainees included students, residents, academics and businessmen.

On June 3, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar wrote that the Saudi authorities are waging a campaign of arrests, deportations and security threats against Saudis and Palestinians residing in the kingdom on charges of being “associated with Hamas.”

According to the newspaper, the campaign of arrests coincided with the closure of and tight control over bank accounts, and the prohibition of transfer of any money from the kingdom to the Gaza Strip.