Bassam Shaka, the elected mayor of Nablus crippled by a car bomb two years ago, charged that he has been confined to his home for the past three months and harassed repeatedly by Israeli soldiers and others.
The harassment has even extended to the realm of modern technology, Shaka said in a recent interview. During recent weeks, he said, Nablus residents watching the Jordanian television network have occasionally heard interruptions of the regular program by a voice speaking in Arabic denouncing the mayor.
Sitting in his wheelchair, the stubs of his legs covered by a loose nightshirt, his smile and twinkling eyes belying his words, Shaka said: "They failed to kill me, and now they are trying to kill me alive."
Shaka's legs were blown off by a car bomb that authorities say was planted by extremist Jewish settlers.
Last spring, he and other mayors considered Palestinian radicals by the Israeli occupation authorities were removed from office.
For the past three months, Shaka said, he has lived under complete house arrest.
Shaka's home on the side of a hill above the city he once governed is guarded round the clock by soldiers of the Israeli border patrol. Visitors' identification papers are checked by the soldiers, and military government officials are contacted by radio before they are allowed to enter. Last Thursday, a group of Israeli and Arab journalists was turned away at the door "for reasons of security."
Shaka, who was elected in 1976, has long been considered one of the most militant and popular Palestinian nationalist leaders on the West Bank. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Israeli military authorities suspect him of being behind the unrest that has flared this summer in Nablus and are determined to isolate him as much as possible.
Shaka said members of the Nablus City Council have not been allowed to see him. His wife, Inaya, has been confined to the house for two months, he said, and one of his children, Hana, 20, has not been allowed to return to the United States to resume her studies at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.
Shaka said Israeli authorities have given no reason for his confinement, but have accused members of his family and visitors of carrying orders from him for strikes.
"We believe the invasion of Lebanon was a failure for Israel," Shaka said. "The PLO still exists. The Palestinian problem still exists."