Israel arrests 37 in West Bank as manhunt drags on

AFP , Monday 23 Jun 2014

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian man during a search for three missing Israeli teens, feared abducted in the West Bank last week, in the village of Beit Kahil near the West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday, June 21, 2014. (AP Photo)

Israeli troops detained 37 Palestinians in the West Bank overnight as its arrest campaign entered its 11th day on Monday, with no sign of three teenage settlers thought kidnapped by Hamas.

Since the youths disappeared from a hitchhiking stop in the southern West Bank on June 12, Israel has been rounding up hundreds of Palestinians in a bid to find them, while also dealing a crushing blow to the Islamist movement's West Bank network.

So far, four Palestinians have been killed in clashes sparked by the wave of arrests.

"Overnight, the forces detained 37 suspects and searched 80 locations, specifically in the area north west of Hebron, Beit Awwa (southwest of Hebron) and also in (the northern city of) Jenin," a spokeswoman said.

They also raided seven Hamas institutions.

"Since the abduction 11 days ago, approximately 361 suspects been detained, 250 of them Hamas members, and 57 who were released during the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange," she said, referring to detainees freed as part of a 2011 swap deal for a soldier held by Hamas.

So far, there has been no claim of responsibility and no sign of the missing youngsters, although military spokesman General Motti Almoz said on Sunday that all information indicated they "are alive".

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has denounced the abductions and defended his security forces' ongoing cooperation with their Israeli counterparts to try to locate the missing boys.

But the Israeli campaign, dubbed "Operation Brother's Keeper" has created chaos in the West Bank where there is growing Palestinian frustration with their own security forces.

Following hours of clashes with Israeli troops in Ramallah early on Sunday, the crowd began hurling rocks at a Palestinian police station, smashing the windows of two police cars.

Israeli rights groups on Sunday wrote to Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon to denounce the crackdown which they branded "collective punishment" and a violation of basic rights.


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