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Israel Frees Detained Palestinian Deputy PM
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Israeli authorities Wednesday released Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Naser al-Shaer, who was among Hamas officials detained after Gazan gunmen abducted an Israeli soldier.

"I should have been free from first moment, but I don't know why now," Shaer said in English as he crossed from Israel into the occupied West Bank. "Anyway, there is no reason at all for arresting me or any others from the Palestinian Government."

Israeli officials had no immediate comment on the release. Shaer's lawyer, Osama al-Saadi, said a military tribunal had determined there was not enough evidence to keep Shaer jailed. Israeli forces seized Shaer at his house on August 19.

However, Shaer, under Wednesday's court order, is not allowed to go to Ramallah, home of the Palestinian government, nor go abroad for two weeks.

He had not been at home, and was put on Israel's wanted list, in late June when dozens of Hamas lawmakers and a number of cabinet ministers were detained after Palestinian gunmen captured an Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, near Gaza.

Thirty-one Hamas legislators are still in Israeli custody.

On Monday, a military court in the West Bank reversed a decision to release 21 of them on bail.

The military prosecution has charged the 21 Hamas members with belonging to a "terrorist group" and posing a security threat against Israel. There had been speculation the legislators could be freed as part of a future deal for Shalit's release.

(China Daily September 28, 2006)


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