The IDF arrested 17 Palestinians overnight on Tuesday as part of an ongoing crackdown in the West Bank, even as troops began to downscale their operations in the territory.
According to Israeli media reports, among those arrested overnight were two Palestinian lawmakers, Ibrahim Tayyub and Khaled Dweik. The Palestinian Ma’an news agency identified the Palestinian MPs as Khaled Tafesh and Anwar Zaboun.
The identities of those arrested could not be independently confirmed.
Israeli forces also found and confiscated weapons in a Palestinian refugee camp near Jenin, the Ynet news site reported.
Since Operation Brother’s Keeper began to locate three kidnapped teens nearly two weeks ago, the IDF has arrested almost 400 Palestinians in the West Bank, most of them members of the Hamas movement.
On Tuesday, Israel’s cabinet voted to begin to scale back operations in the West Bank as military officials admitted the campaign against Hamas was drawing to a close in its present form.
A large part of the operation against Hamas has been exhausted,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, while adding that it was a matter of time until three kidnapped teens were found.
Despite 13 days of intensive searches, IDF spokesman Peter Lerner said Tuesday that the military had yet to have a breakthrough in locating Eyal Yfrach, 19, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, all abducted on June 12.
IDF chief Benny Gantz said concern was growing for the fate of the three as time passed.
“With the passing of time, fears grow,” he said.
The arrests came hours after after the Israeli Air Force and Palestinian terrorist groups exchanged salvos in the Gaza Strip.
Attacks from Gaza and Israeli retaliatory airstrikes have increased recently amid tensions over the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank and the ensuing Israeli military operation to recover them.
Overnight, the air force hit seven military targets in the Gaza Strip and confirmed direct hits, the IDF spokesperson said in a statement. There were no reported casualties.
According to the IDF, Israeli planes “targeted five concealed rocket launchers in northern Gaza, one terror activity site in central Gaza, and a weapon manufacturing facility in southern Gaza.”
The airstrikes came in response to the launching of five rockets at southern Israeli communities. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two, one struck a building in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, and two exploded inside the Gaza Strip, killing a young girl and injuring three other Palestinians.