80 Palestinians detained in search for missing Israeli teens
Israeli forces began a wide-ranging campaign of arrests across the West Bank overnight Saturday and Sunday morning targeting 80 individuals affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including lawmakers and political leaders.
The campaign comes as Israeli forces continue their search for three teenage boys who disappeared on Thursday evening from the Gush Etzion Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank and are believed by some to have been taken hostage.
Hamas sources told Ma'an that at least 70 of the movement's leaders and supporters were detained across the West Bank, and on Sunday morning soldiers and military vehicles continued to deploy across Hebron district in the southern West Bank.
Local sources told Ma'an that Israeli troops carried out predawn raids in the towns of Sair, Taffuh, Beit Kahil, Bani Naim, Beit Ula, Dura, and Yatta in the Hebron district and carried out intensive inspections. At least eight Palestinians were detained eventually in those raids.
Hamas sources in Nablus in told Ma'an that Israeli troops detained three Hamas-affiliated Palestinian lawmakers in the northern West Bank, who were identified as Muhammad Ghazal, Ahmad al-Hajj Ali and Husni al-Burini, along with many other supporters of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
Among the other detainees arrested in Nablus overnight were Firas Jarrar, Samir Abu Shueib, Nasser Abu Eisha, Anas Raddad, Talal Abu Asab, Abdullah Bani Audah, Ahmad Nabhan, Ahmad Awwad, Ahmad al-Bayari, Ahmad Malaysha, Huthayfa Salamah, Ahmad Hamdanah, Muhammad Sawalha and Muhammad Daghlas.
Similarly, Israeli forces raided the city of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank and detained Palestinian lawmaker Abdul-Rahman Zeidan.
Israeli soldiers also broke into home of lawmaker Fathi Qarawi and inspected it. Qarawi told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers raided his home at dawn and inspected all the rooms including a garage where he parks his car. He added that Israeli intelligence officers questioned all his children and handed a summons to his son, Hamza, who was at his university dormitories preparing for his final exams. The soldiers left at 5:00 a.m., Qarawi added.
Israeli forces also stormed Tubas in the northern West Bank, detaining Fazi Sawafta and Nadir Sawafta.
In Azzun village in Qalqiliya district in the north, Israeli forces detained Abdullah Shbeita, Amir Dahbour, and Nael Anaya in an arrest raid.
The Israeli military confirmed the arrest raid in a statement, saying that "approximately 80 Palestinian suspects were detained" in overnight raids and promising to use "all means" to find the three missing Israeli settlers.
"Palestinian terrorists will not feel safe, will not be able to hide and will feel the heavy arm of the Israeli military capabilities, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in the statement.
The three disappeared youths were identified on Saturday as Eyal Yifrach, 16, Gilad Shaaer, 19, and Naftali Frenkel, 16.
The group was attempting to hitch hike in the Israeli settlement of Gush Etzion on Thursday evening when they disappeared, and as of yet Israeli forces have not been able to find any traces of them.
The case has attracted widespread attention in Israel and led to a fervent campaign for their return under the banner "Bring Back Our Boys."
Palestinians, however, have contrasted the attention received by the three settler youth with the lack of concern for the fate of around 200 Palestinians who are currently being held indefinitely without charge or trial in Israeli prisons, including 125 who have been on hunger strike for more than 50 days.