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Sources: Thai workers questioned in Itamar

March 14, 2011 4:34 P.M. (Updated: March 16, 2011 11:32 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Monday afternoon summoned all Thai workers employed in the Itamar settlement, the site of the murder of five members of the Fogel family, and held them for questioning, Ma'an has learned.

Sources close to some of the laborers said that all of the workers had been gathered and taken for questioning in relation to the stabbing deaths of a settler family on Friday night.

Though Palestinians have been forbidden from working in the settlements of the northern West Bank, foreign workers, mostly from Thailand and the Philippines, have been contracted for labor in the area.

It was unclear if Israeli investigators were widening their investigation to include the possibility that a foreign worker was involved in the attack, which has been blamed in the Israeli media on Palestinians.

Israeli officials have refused to comment on the issue. Israel's national police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma'an that a gag order has been imposed on information connected to the investigation.

An Israeli security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity in line with military policy, said there had been no change in Israel's allegations that Palestinians were responsible.

Official statements to the media also maintain that forces are searching for Palestinian militants in connection with the murders.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces detained over 300 Palestinians in Awarta in the Nablus district after imposing a three-day curfew on residents, Palestinian security officials told AFP. Two Palestinian Authority intelligence officers were amongst those detained, officials added.

The militant wings of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah have all denied involvement in the murders, with the Al-Aqsa Brigades saying Monday in a statement that they "oppose the targeting of civilians and killing of children no matter what the pretext may be."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the Palestinian Authority of incitement, saying that comments against illegal Israeli settlements provoked the violent attack.

The Gaza government accused Israel of being hasty in its assumption that the killings were perpetrated by Palestinians, calling Israeli media and government spokespeople premature when they labeled the incident a "terrorist attack."

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