Al Khalil – Israeli forces have raided hundreds of homes and detained 300 Palestinian individuals since three Israeli teenagers went missing from a Jewish settlement near Bethlehem last week, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement Wednesday.
Israeli forces have launched arrest raids across the West Bank since Thursday in retribution for the disappearance, which they say was the result of a Hamas kidnapping.
Al Khalil has born the brunt of the retribution, as a siege was imposed on the southern West Bank region of more than 600,000 over the weekend.
More than one-third of the 300 detained were taken during Israeli raids on more than 750 homes in the district.
During the raids, Israeli forces damaged properties in the majority of the houses, the Prisoner’s Society said, and the infrastructure of a number of homes was damaged in some of the raids.
Palestinian Prisoner’s Society director in Al Khalil Amjad al-Najjar said that the arrests have not only targeted Hamas members but all Palestinians.
Local sources said that Israeli forces are continuing raids and searches in areas around Al Kahlil district villages of Ithna and Dura, and that there is a heavy deployment of Israeli soldiers in Farsh al-Hawa area.
The search is reportedly focused in the northwestern regions of Al Khalil, from where a telephone call to the police from one of the youths immediately after they disappeared was reportedly sourced by the military. In that call, one of the Israeli youths told the police the three had been “kidnapped.”
The Prisoner’s Society said that the 300 detainees include 52 people who were freed in the Shalit prisoner exchange deal with Israeli occupation, and 11 Palestinian members of parliament.
According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, 104 were detained from Al Khalil, 52 from Nablus, 41 from Ramallah, 37 from Jenin, 16 from Tulkarem, 13 from Qalqiliya, 12 from each of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, 6 from Tubas, 5 from Salfit, and one from Jericho.
Additionally, one individual from Balata refugee camp near Nablus was arrested Wednesday night.
The Israeli military has engaged in a wide spread search campaign for the missing youths that has morphed into a full assault on Hamas members across the West Bank in recent days.
Israeli forces have killed one Palestinians and injured at least seven injured across the West Bank since the campaign began.