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Bethlehem deportee held for robbery in Belgium (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH 12/19/03)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1071721355909&p=1006688055060 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
One of 13 Palestinians deported from Bethlehem following the siege of the Church of the Nativity in May 2002 has been arrested along with seven others during a police raid in Belgium on Tuesday.

Khalil Nawawreh, 27, was arrested on suspicion of involvement in two armed robberies of post offices in Brakel and Court-Saint-Etienne in February, in which the thieves managed to escape with 213,000. Nawawreh had been working in Belgium as a mason. He was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of participating in a number of armed robberies of local post offices.

The Belgian authorities agreed to host him, providing him with a monthly allowance and housing, as part of a deal worked out among the European Union, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel. When he arrived in the country, he was placed under guard by Belgian security forces, but this was lifted after he was deemed not to be a threat to public security.

The Belgian daily Le Soir reported that security forces had conducted searches in 44 locations in the Brussels area, arresting seven individuals, including Nawawreh, who is said to have used explosives to rob the post offices.

Nawawreh´s arrest has seriously embarrassed the Belgian authorities and the Palestinian Authority. His alleged involvement in the armed robberies was raised in the Belgian parliament on Thursday. Some legislators demanded clarifications from the government about the case.

Nawawreh was involved in the February 2001 murder of Tzahi Sasson in a series of shootings at cars on the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion (tunnel) road. Before he and his friends were deported, Nawawreh served as an aide to Ibrahim Abayat, the head of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Bethlehem.

Nawawreh and his colleagues have been pressuring the PA to raise their case with Israel so that they would be allowed to return to the West Bank. Their families have also staged sit-ins in Bethlehem demanding that their sons be allowed to return.

Some of the European countries had expressed fear that the Bethlehem deportees would turn to crime or terrorism because of their problematic background. Residents of Bethlehem have complained that some of the fugitives, especially those belonging to Fatah, had imposed a reign of intimidation in the city. Two of them, now in Spain and Ireland, are also believed to have raped two Christian girls before killing them under the pretext of collaboration with Israel.

According to some reports, British and Irish security forces are looking into information that Jihad Ja´arah, one of the two deported to Dublin, was in contact with the Real IRA. Irish sources said the allegations had yet to be confirmed.

Ja´arah, 32, a resident of the al-Aroub refugee camp near Bethlehem, was also a senior member of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. Before he was deported, he carried out a number of attacks and was responsible for the murder of Maj. (res.) Amir Zohar near Nahal Elisha in November 2000. He also shot at a bus on the Jericho bypass road in December 2000, killing Sgt. Tal Gordon and crippling a woman.

In January 2002, Ja´arah was involved in the killing of Avi Boaz, a handicapped man who was visiting friends in Beit Jala. Later that year he dispatched a suicide bomber to carry out an attack in Jerusalem. The man was killed when his car exploded prematurely. (© 1995-2003, The Jerusalem Post 12/19/03)

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