Israel arrests 120 Hamas members in West Bank: Palestinians

HEBRON: Israeli troops on Sunday arrested 120 Hamas members in the southern West Bank just hours after the faction’s Gaza branch fired rockets into Israel, Palestinian police said.

Police sources said troops fanned out across the area in an overnight operation which kicked off just hours after Hamas’s
armed wing in Gaza fired rockets into southern Israel, lightly wounding two children.

It was the first rocket attack claimed by the group in more than four months and came in the context of rising tensions in and around the enclave after militants from Gaza killed eight Israelis in the Negev on Thursday.

Among those arrested early on Sunday was Hamas MP Mohammed Motlaq Abu J’heisha, the sources said.

“Between 100 and 120 people have been arrested,” Samira Halaika, a Hamas MP from Hebron told AFP. “In terms of size, there has never been such an arrest operation on this scale in the Hebron area before.”

Mushir al-Masri, another Hamas MP who lives in Gaza, said initial information showed at least 80 of the group’s members had been arrested in a move which he said demonstrated Israel’s “criminal mentality” towards the Palestinians.

“All attempts by the occupation to hit at Hamas are doomed to fail; experience has shown that it only makes Hamas stronger,” he said.

Asked if Saturday’s rocket fire on the Israeli town of Ofakim meant the de facto truce of April 10 was over, he did not answer. “If the aggression stops, Hamas will consult with the Palestinian factions about how to deal with the situation,” he said. In Dura near Hebron, youngsters hurled stones at the soldiers, who retaliated with rubber bullets, moderately injuring one person, medics said.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the reported arrests.

( / 21.08.2011)

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