West Bank: IDF arrests 23 Palestinians, including two officials

Israeli Defense Forces troops arrested 23 Palestinians, including a Hamas legislator and a member of Palestine National Council (PNC), in operations across the West Bank June 28. Among the detained is Hamas legislator Nasser Abduljawad, who was taken from his home in the village of Deir Ballout, to the west of Salfeet. Um Owais, Abduljawad’s wife, said that soldiers broke into the house at 3 AM, searched their bedroom, and ordered her husband to get dressed before taking him away. Abduljawad was among dozens of Hamas officials who Israel arrested in June 2006 in response to the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip. He was released in September 2010.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces arrested 22 other Palestinians in the cities of Qalqilyah, Hebron, Jenin, Ramallah and Nablus. PNC member Azmi Sl-Shiyoukhi, of the Fatah movement, was taken from his home in Hebron. Israeli sources said that the 23 were taken to undisclosed locations for questioning by the Shin Bet intelligence service.

On June 27, Hamas prisoners launched a one-day hunger strike to protest against the isolation of their leaders in Israeli prisons. Hamas said that Israeli Prison Service has transferred seven of its leaders to solitary confinement. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the move after Hamas rejected the demand of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRS) to provide proof that Shalit is still alive.

Hamas wants Israel to free up to 1,000 Palestinians in exchange for the release of Shalit. According to the recent Palestinian statistics, there are 6,700 Palestinians currently held in 23 prisons and detention camps in Israel and in the West Bank. Of these, 300 are under the age of 18. Israel also holds 37 females and 17 members of the Palestine Legislative Council. (Arab News, June 28)

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