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Israeli forces target relatives of slain suspected gunman in West Bank detention raids

Aug. 1, 2016 12:36 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 1, 2016 10:23 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained at least 25 Palestinian in raids overnight Sunday and early Monday morning across the occupied West Bank, including a Palestinian security officer accused by Israel of weapons dealing, and relatives of Mohammad Faqih, killed last week when Israeli forces bombarded a home with bulldozers and anti-tank missiles while he was inside, concluding a weeks-long manhunt after a deadly shooting attack last month.

Faqih, from the city of Dura just east of central Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, was accused of carrying out a drive-by shooting on July 1 south of the illegal Israeli settlement of Otniel in the Hebron district, which left one Israeli settler dead and three injured.

In the wake of the shooting -- which occurred within 48 hours of a series of deadly incidents in Hebron that left one Israeli girl killed in her home, her attacker shot dead, and another Palestinian woman killed by Israeli forces in a separate incident, the entire district was placed under the most extensive lockdown in the West Bank since 2014.

Following Faqih’s killing on Tuesday, which occurred in the village of Surif where he had been hiding, Israeli forces have begun to ease the large-scale military closures nearly a month after they were imposed. However, nightly detention raids into the Hebron have continued unabated since.

Locals and Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that large numbers of Israeli troops raided the neighborhoods of al-Koum, Khursa, and Sinjar in Dura predawn Monday, detaining at least 13 young Palestinian men.

They were identified as Hussein Jubara al-Faqih -- Muhammed Faqih’s brother -- as well as relatives Muhammad Ismail al-Faqih, Ayid Ahmad al-Faqih and his sons Firas and Muhammad.

During the Dura raid Israeli forces also detained Badir Ziad Abu Hlayil and his brother Iyad, Ashraf Muhammad Amr, Haitham Ismail Talahma, and Ahmad Abd al-Majid Amayra.

The sources added that Israeli soldiers ransacked the homes of Muhammad Amayra, who is jailed in Israel, as well as the homes of Anas Abd al-Majid Shadid, Ahmad Azmi Tbeish, and Khalid Ali Tbeish.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the 10 detentions, and informed Ma’an of three other Palestinians who were detained in the area and remained unidentified.

Israeli media reported that those detained were suspected of assisting Faqih in the shooting, while other were detained for allegedly being arms dealers suspected of assisting Faqih.

In Surif, Palestinian security sources said that Israeli forces also detained Muhammad Ibrahim al-Hur after ransacking his house. The Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an he was a suspected Hamas operative.

She added that four others were detained in the wider Hebron area, including two in the village Sair suspected of being Hamas operatives.

Meanwhile, in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli forces Monday morning detained Mahyub Qanazi, 44, a Palestinian security officer.

According to Palestinian security sources, Qanazi was detained outside on al-Tawon street in Nablus while he was on his way to s hospital for treatment. Qanazi is an officer in the Palestinian Authority’s preventive security service.

A statement from an Israeli army spokesperson said Qanazi was suspected of being a “major weapons dealer” in Nablus, adding that seven weapons manufacturing machines have been seized in the area since the beginning of the year.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an two Palestinians were detained in Nablus raids, one of whom for being a suspected Hamas operative. It remained unclear whether Qanazi was included in the two detentions in Nablus.

She added that another Palestinian was detained in the northernmost occupied West Bank district of Jenin, two were detained in the Bethlehem-area village of Tuqu, and two suspected PFLP operatives were detained in al-Duheisha refugee camp during a raid that sparked clashes and left a young Palestinian shot and injured in the leg.

Since a wave of unrest swept across the Palestinian territory and Israel in October, nearly 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis while carrying out attacks or allegedly attempting to carry out attacks on Israeli targets, or during clashes with Israeli forces during raids in Palestinian communities.

Some 32 Israelis have been killed in the same period.

Israel has come under repeated criticism for failing to carry out due process in response to alleged and actual attacks, particularly in regard to the apparent extrajudicial executions of Palestinians who no longer posed a threat when they were killed.

In response to Israeli deaths, Israeli authorities have imposed severe punitive measures on the Palestinian population, targeting the families of slain suspects in overnight detentions, demolishing their homes, and withholding the bodies of Palestinians that have been killed.

Israeli forces have also routinely sealed entire villages from where the suspects originated and revoked permits of their residents to enter and work in Israel, affecting up to hundreds of thousands of uninvolved civilians at a time.

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