Israel detains 370 Palestinians in one week citing search for teens
Israeli soldiers have been deployed to the Palestinian West Bank en masse in search of the three missing Israeli teens who allegedly disappeared from their settlement in Gush Etzion (Abbas Momani/AFP)
Israeli forces detained 39 Palestinians in overnight raids across the West Bank on Saturday morning, bringing the number of prisoners in Israeli jails to 5,700 amid the widest deployment of Israel forces in the region since the Second Intifada.
Around 370 Palestinians have been detained just in the past week as part of an arrest campaign carried out by Israel with Palestinian Authority coordination that began after the disappearance of three Israeli teenagers from the Jewish settlement of Gush Etzion.
Former minister of prisoner affairs Issa Qaraqe said on Saturday that he expects the numbers of detentions to rapidly increase in the coming days, as the campaign shows no signs of abating.
At a lecture organized by the Youth Council of Bethlehem, Qaraqe said that the number of Palestinians being held without charge or trial had jumped to 260 detainees in recent days, while the number of minors being detained hat hit 241.
Qaraqe added that 75 of the newly detained are former prisoners who were released in the 2011 prisoner swap that freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinians.
Qaraqe said that "re-sentencing prisoners who were released in the Shalit deal is a form of immoral and illegal revenge, an offense to Egypt who sponsored the deal, and collective punishment that is against the human and legal rights of prisoners."
Around two-thirds of those detained in recent days have been members of the Palestinian political party Hamas, which Israel accuses of being behind what it calls the kidnapping of the youths.
Hamas, however, has denied the charges, for which Israel has not offered any evidence. Despite this, more than 200 people affiliated with the group -- ranging from former government ministers to employees of Hamas-sponsored charities -- have been taken by Israeli forces.
Just on Saturday morning, 39 Palestinians were arrested across the West Bank, primarily in the southern cities of Hebron and Bethlehem.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society published a list of 37 names on Saturday morning, while security sources added two residents of the Hebron region to the total number detained.
The Israeli military, however, disputed the count, and a spokeswoman told Ma'an that "10 Palestinians were arrested, and they were all Hamas terrorists."
The Israeli military also says that only 330 Palestinians have been arrested in total.
Palestinians targeted overnight accused Israeli forces of both theft and brutality during raids across the southern Hebron region, which has been under a state of siege since Israeli forces began the campaign last week.
Local sources in the village of Beit Kahil said that when Israeli forces detained Sami Suleimna Atawnah from his home. He was beaten "brutally" by the troops, they said.
Two residents of the village also accused Israeli troops of stealing money from their homes during predawn raids Saturday.
Samir Haymouni told Ma'an that Israeli troops stole 15,000 shekels ($4,300) in addition to damaging all of his furniture.
Similarly, Hatim Asafra said that Israeli soldiers stole 2,500 shekels ($725) from his apartment.
Israeli soldiers also broke into Islamic charitable societies in Hebron and the nearby villages of Sair and Halhul. Sources said the soldiers confiscated computers and paper files during the raid.
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