The army and police arrested close to 50 Palestinians on Tuesday and Wednesday night in raids across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, many of them for rock throwing or taking part in violent demonstrations, officials said.
The Israel Police and Israel Defense Forces have stepped up arrest raids, as the West Bank and Jerusalem saw a sharp uptick in attacks and attempted attacks on Israeli security forces by Palestinians over the past week.
Over the course of two nights, police picked up 23 people in the Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem and in the Shuafat refugee camp on charges ranging from taking part in a riot and throwing rocks to drug possession, police said.
In the West Bank, IDF soldiers arrested 11 suspects on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. The following night, Israeli forces picked up another 12 Palestinians, the army said.
Of the 23 arrested in the West Bank, 12 were for rock throwing and taking part in riots “against civilians and security forces,” the army said.
Five of them were arrested for allegedly belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization, while the remaining six were picked up for undisclosed reasons, according to the IDF.
In addition to the arrests, security forces seized illegal weapons, military gear and gun-manufacturing equipment.
Soldiers found a homemade submachine gun, magazines full of ammunition, a knife, components of an M-16 assault rifle and a stolen car in Jabel Juhar, just outside of Hebron, during an operation carried out on Tuesday night following an alleged stabbing attempt near the West Bank city’s Tomb of the Patriarchs pilgrimage site earlier that day.
On Wednesday night, Israeli troops found a gun and ammunition in Qarawat Bani Hassan, west of the settlement of Ariel, the army said.
In East Jerusalem, police confiscated billy clubs and some gun accessories — holsters, bullets, a carbine conversion kit for a glock — but officers found no actual firearms, according to police.
The past week has seen a renewed surge in attacks, after months in which the violence that marked 2015 and early 2016 appeared to have waned. From Friday to Tuesday, Palestinian assailants carried out daily attacks on Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and the Hebron area, where Palestinians live in close proximity to settlers and Israeli troops.
Officials fear the upcoming Jewish holidays and the recently ended Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday could be behind the raised tensions.
The holiday and the month of September “are always more susceptible to spikes in violent Palestinian activities,” a military official, speaking anonymously, said last week. “The motivation and inspiration to carry out attacks against Israelis remains strong.”