Palestinians in a West Bank town say Israeli troops have rounded up some 200 women supposedly as part of a search for the killer(s) of five Israelis in a nearby settlement last month.
Kais Awwad, the mayor of Awarta, says the women were taken into custody in an overnight raid. He says troops fingerprinted them and took DNA samples from their mouths.
He says that as of Thursday morning, about 100 women remained in custody, along with about 50 village men arrested in earlier raids.
Since a young Israeli couple and three of their children were stabbed to death in the neighboring Israeli settlement of Itamar, Awarta has been terrorized by Israeli troops and subjected to numerous raids and curfews.
The Israeli military had no comment. Details of the investigation are under a gag order, but the Israeli media claimed the perpetrator was Palestinian instantly, without any declared proof or evidence.
In addition to the Israeli campaign in Awarta, the incident has also been used to justify settlers going beyond the illegal settlement's declared borders.