Israeli troops detained 37 Palestinians in the West Bank during the night as its arrest campaign entered its 11th day yesterday, with no sign of three teenagers 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.
But with tensions rising among Palestinians over the crackdown which has seen four Palestinians killed by troops in the past week, the campaign is expected to shift focus to intelligence gathering rather than mass 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,” an army spokeswoman said.
So far, troops have arrested 361 people, among them 250 Hamas members and 57 who were freed during a 2011 prisoner swap deal to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, a soldier held in Gaza for five years by Hamas, the army said. Despite the operation, 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”.