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Israel detains 40 Palestinians as search for teens continues

June 17, 2014 12:05 P.M. (Updated: June 18, 2014 9:39 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Some 40 Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces overnight, bringing the total number of detentions past the 200 mark on the fifth day of a search for missing teenagers, the army said.

Over 25 Israeli military vehicles entered Balata refugee camp in Nablus and soldiers raided 30 homes, a Palestinian official said.

Fatah-affiliated lawmaker Jamal Tirawi told Ma'an Israeli soldiers ransacked his home "in a barbarian way," claiming they were looking for weapons.

Tirawi said soldiers also searched the homes of his brothers' apartments, in addition to the homes of Palestinian security officers.

He said soldiers detained Hatim Abu Rizq, his brother Abed, Bashir Hashash, Ayish al-Abed, Ali al-Araj, Raed al-Kaabi, Muhammad Abu Arab, and Iyad Tirawi.

Soldiers detained Bilal Muhsin from the village of Audla, Tirawi added.

Israeli forces also issued summons to eight Palestinian families, demanding the "wanted" members of the families turn themselves in, he said.

A senior military source told the Israeli news site Ynet that the army had shifted their focus from Hebron to Nablus.

Still, thousands of Israeli soldiers remained stationed in Hebron overnight, continuing to keep the southern entrance to the city closed with an iron gate, a Ma'an reporter said.

Locals told Ma'an that military raids were conducted in the towns of Beit Ummar, Surif, Sair, Nuba, Dura, and Beit Kahil.

Cemeteries were searched in Dura and Beit Kahil, locals said.

Meanwhile, in Ramallah, Israeli forces detained four Hamas-affiliated men after raiding their homes.

Family members told Ma'an that Aziz Kayid, director of Hamas' TV channel al-Aqsa, was detained from his house al-Bireh.

Soldiers also detained Muhammad Ammar, Rami Ishteiwi, and Anas al-Kiswani.

Kidnappers 'could have been car thieves'

As the search for three missing Israeli teenagers entered its fifth day, an Israeli police commander speculated that the teens' alleged kidnappers could have been "car thieves or criminals" given their skill at evading police.

Northern district commander Elik Ron told the Israeli news site Walla that Hamas had utilized car thieves for operations in the past, given the thieves' abilities to sneak past checkpoints and break into houses.

"They are professionals at passing through security technologies and they know when to get rid of their smart phones," Ron told Walla.

Three Israeli teenagers disappeared late Thursday from an area near the Gush Etzion settlement.

Israel blames Hamas for "kidnapping" the teens, but Hamas denies involvement.

Soldiers have killed a Palestinian and injured several others during the campaign to the find the missing teens, which Palestinian officials have described as "collective punishment."
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