Anwar Eshki, chairman of the Middle East Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies, has revealed that Palestinian officials knew about the arrest carried out by the Saudi authorities of Palestinians suspected of having ties to Hamas.
Eshki said in a press statement that the Saudi officials informed their Palestinian counterparts about the arrest and its circumstances arrest during the latter’s recent visit to the Saudi Kingdom.
He explained that the Palestinian ambassador to Riyadh, Basem Al-Agha, is aware of the situation of the detained Palestinians, and has information about the role of these persons as well as the nature of their involvement in the issues that led to their arrest.
Eshki indicated that a number of Palestinian officials visited the Saudi Kingdom recently during the pilgrimage season, and “have become well informed about the various issues that resulted in their compatriots’ arrest.”
He pointed out that most of the issues revolved around fundraising for Hamas in Saudi Arabia. The official response of the Palestinian Authority stated that “they prioritise the security of the Saudi Kingdom and support any measures taken to protect it.”
Eshki stated that the Palestinian intelligence services had recognised the role of some of the arrested Palestinians and had observations concerning them.
He added: “Mr Majed Faraj and Mahmoud Al-Habbash were in Saudi Arabia and they must have been briefed on the detainees’ files. They were accompanied by a Palestinian security delegation, which supported the procedures and made observations on the involvement of the detainees.”
Eshki acknowledged that many elderlies and women are among the detainees and that some of them had good relations with the Saudi Kingdom, as is the case with Abu Ubaida Al-Agha and Mohammad Al-Khodari. However, “they were involved in raising funds for Hamas. The information, which was not denied by the detainees who visited Saudi Arabia earlier, was also confirmed by the Palestinian Authority.”
He continued: “We are dealing with the Palestinian Authority as a legitimate body, which has been briefed on the issue and welcomed all the procedures undertaken by the Saudi authorities; as the Palestinian intelligence services have appointed a delegation which has been familiar with the investigation details and supported the course of the enquiry.”
Eshki rejected allegations accusing the Saudi authorities of torturing the Palestinian detainees, saying: “The Palestinian embassy in Saudi Arabia is aware of the conditions of the detainees, and the Palestinian Authority has approved the arrest procedures, as they expressed no objection on the matter.”
He also noted that Jordan is aware of the detention of some of its citizens in the Saudi Kingdom, and the Jordanian authorities expressed no concern over the arrest procedures.
The Saudi kingdom has arrested a number of Palestinians suspected of having links to Hamas, as well as a number of Jordanian citizens under the pretext of being involved in fundraising campaigns for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas announced in a statement the arrest of a number of its officials, most notably the representative of the movement Mohammad Al-Khodari, demanding the Saudi authorities to release him, especially since he is over 80 and suffers from a terminal illness.