IDF raids West Bank refugee camp in crackdown on rock throwing
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IDF raids West Bank refugee camp in crackdown on rock throwing

Troops arrest 17 suspects in overnight operations, escort 2,000 worshipers to Nablus holy site; soldier lightly injured by stones

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli troops in the al-Aroub refugee camp in the central West Bank arrest a Palestinian suspect who is believed to have thrown rocks at a nearby highway, on February 20, 2019. (Screen capture: Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops in the al-Aroub refugee camp in the central West Bank arrest a Palestinian suspect who is believed to have thrown rocks at a nearby highway, on February 20, 2019. (Screen capture: Israel Defense Forces)

In a crackdown on stone throwing overnight, the Israeli military raided the al-Aroub Palestinian refugee camp in the central West Bank, arresting five people suspected of attacking a nearby highway, the army said.

Wednesday’s predawn raid sparked riots in the refugee camp, with residents throwing rocks and concrete blocks at the Israeli troops, injuring one of them lightly, the military said.

The wounded soldier received medical treatment and was released home to recuperate, the Israel Defense Forces said.

“The operation was part of a wider preventative effort being conducted to end the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails, and to allow safety on the roadways,” the military said in a statement.

Though the West Bank has been relatively calm in recent months following a spate of terror attacks at the end of last year, the ruling Palestinian Authority has threatened that widespread violence could again break out should Jerusalem go through with plans to withhold approximately NIS 500 million ($138 million) in PA tax funds that Israel says would be used to pay terrorists and their families.

In addition to the five people arrested in the al-Aroub raid, IDF troops detained 12 other suspects in overnight operations across the West Bank on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, the army said.

The suspects were believed to have taken part in terrorist activities, rock-throwing and other forms of low-level violence against Israeli troops and civilians, the IDF said.

The 17 people arrested were handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning.

In pre-dawn raids, Israeli security forces also found two locally produced makeshift firearms, known as Carlo submachine guns, the military said.

A Carlo submachine gun found by Israeli security forces in the West Bank village of Shuweika during a predawn raid on February 20, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

The weapons were found in the village of Shuweika in the northern West Bank, the army said.

The Israel Police, which took part in the Shuweika raid, said a large number of bullets and gun parts were also found and confiscated.

“Illicitly owned weapons are used to carry out terror attacks, crimes and violent acts. Therefore, the Israel police and other security forces will continue in the determined and unending fight to bring down the number of firearms possessed illegally,” the police said in a statement.

In addition to the arrest raids, the Israeli military on Wednesday also escorted some 2,000 Jewish worshipers to the Joseph’s Tomb pilgrimage site in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, the army said.

During the visit, residents of the area hurled rocks at the Israeli troops, the military said.

No soldiers were injured.

IDF soldiers arrested three of the rioters, the army said.

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