The Israeli army on Tuesday ordered the closure of a popular shopping mall in the West Bank, saying the company that runs it is linked to Hamas, Palestinian security officials and witnesses said.
Computers, furniture and documents were seized in the pre-dawn raid on the Al-I'itiman Investment Co, in the city of Nablus's only mall, with soldiers posting a closure notice, effective August 15.
The order says anyone running a store in the 12-shop mall after that date "could face five years in jail."
The Israeli army surrounds Nablus, which is governed by President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority, but mounts frequent raids into the city.
"We will not recognise the illegal measures taken by the army. We will not obey its orders," said Nablus governor Jamal al-Muheisen.
Osnan Musleh, a Beit Almal board member, denied the Hamas link.
"This shopping centre belongs to a public company with more than 4,000 shareholders. It has no connection to politics or Hamas," he said.
Israel has stepped up raids against charities in the occupied West Bank.
A statement issued by the Israeli government on Monday said Defence Minister Ehud Barak recently signed an order declaring 36 international charitable funds to be "banned associations".
The order to close the shopping mall said anyone wishing to appeal against the edict could submit a petition to the Israeli military's legal department.
It listed telephone and fax numbers.
Last Mod: 08 Temmuz 2008, 18:26