The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security agency arrested 29 Hamas members, including senior officials of the terror group, in overnight raids in the West Bank.
“The wave of detentions, that included a number of senior Hamas figures, was part of the preventive efforts of the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Defense Forces against the terrorist organizations, particularly during the past week and due to the tension surrounding the Temple Mount and the unrest in the area,” the Shin Bet said in a statement on Sunday morning.
The Shin Bet did not identify the senior Hamas officials who were detained.
A Hamas MP was among those arrested, according to the Israel Hayom daily, which identified him as Omar Abd Al-Razak. The army did not immediately confirm this information.
The crackdown came a day after three members of the Salamon family were stabbed to death in the Halamish settlement in the West Bank. The lethal terror attack unfolded on Friday night when a 19-year-old Palestinian, Omar al-Abed, from a nearby village, burst into their home armed with a large knife and began stabbing the family members, who had gathered to celebrate the birth of a grandson.
The three victims of the Friday night terror attack in Halamish were named on Saturday as Yosef Salomon, 70, his daughter Chaya Salomon, 46, and son Elad Salomon, 36. Yosef Salomon’s wife, Tova, 68, was seriously wounded and taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem where she underwent surgery on Saturday morning.
The arrests also came amid ongoing clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces against the installation of metal detectors at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount holy site. The metal detectors were introduced after two Israeli police officers were shot and killed at the holy site on July 14 by Arab Israeli gunmen who smuggled the weapons into the compound.
Muslim leaders say the metal detectors mark a change to the status quo at the site. Israel says the July 14 attack showed an imperative for reinforced security measures.
On Saturday, a Palestinian youth wounded in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank died of his injuries, the Palestinian health ministry said. It said 17-year-old Oday Nawajaa had been hit by live fire and critically wounded at al-Eizariya east of Jerusalem. Another Palestinian aged 18 died in the West Bank village of Abu Dis when a petrol bomb he was planning to throw at Israeli security forces exploded prematurely, the ministry said. Three other Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces on Friday.
Also Friday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced he was freezing all contacts with Israel.
“I, on behalf of the Palestinian leadership, announce… a freeze of all contacts with the occupation state on all levels until Israel commits to canceling all the measures against our Palestinian people in general and Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque in particular,” Abbas said to applause from officials convened in PA headquarters in Ramallah.
He specifically castigated the deployment of metal detectors at the Temple Mount compound, calling the measures “falsely presented as a security measure to take control over Al-Aqsa mosque.”