World Bulletin / News Desk
The Israeli army detained 52 Palestinians late on Tuesday as part of a broad crackdown in the West Bank against the backdrop of the recent disappearance of three Jewish teen settlers in the south of the Palestinian territory, a Hamas-owned TV channel reported.
According to Al-Aqsa TV, Israeli troops rounded up 50 Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel in a 2011 swap deal in exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as well as two Hamas lawmakers.
The Israeli government accuses Hamas of abducting three Jewish settlers who went missing from the Gush Etzion Jewish settlement in the occupied West bank last Thursday.
The Israeli army confirmed the latest detentions, saying the crackdown targeted former prisoners, lawmakers and Hamas leaders.
Operations to continue
Quoting an unnamed military source, the Israeli army radio said the military would continue its operation in the West Bank to find the three setters.
Gen. Nitzan Alon, head of the Israeli army's Central Command, described the operation as "complicated and protracted."
"It didn't start today and it's not going to end anytime soon," he was quoted as saying.
In recent days, Israeli forces have arrested scores of Palestinians – including several Hamas lawmakers – in connection with the settlers' disappearance.
No Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for the alleged kidnapping this far.
On Tuesday, Israel's security cabinet vowed to ratchet up military pressure on Hamas and make conditions worse for Hamas-affiliated detainees in Israeli prisons.
Some 5200 Palestinians continue to languish in Israeli jails, according to estimates by the Palestinian Prisoners' Society.
Israel detained 197 Palestinians in 4 days
Israeli forces have detained 197 Palestinians and raided 791 homes in the occupied West Bank in search for three missing Jewish settlers, a Palestinian rights group said on Tuesday.
"The recent arrests are undoubtedly politically-driven," Fouad al-Khofsh, the head of Palestinian Ahrar rights group told reporters at the group's headquarters in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
According to al-Khofsh, most of those detained belong to the Gaza-based Hamas movement which Israel has accused of kidnapping the settlers.
The detainees include seven lawmakers, six members of the West Bank's Fatah movement, whose leader Mahmoud Abbas heads the Palestinian Authority, and two members of the Islamic Jihad group.
"During its campaign, the Israeli army raided and systematically vandalized 791 Palestinian homes, 570 of which in Hebron alone," al-Khofsh said, pointing out that 101 out of the detained Palestinians have also been taken from Hebron.
Al-Khofsh further called on the Palestinian Authority to "take a serious stance" from the current arrests and reject the singling-out of any Palestinian faction by Israel.Last Mod: 18 Haziran 2014, 12:25