PA arrests 21 students affiliated with Hamas in West Bank

Raid comes on heels of large operation which saw 108 members of the group nabbed Thursday-Friday

Palestinian security officers in the West Bank city of Nablus (Wagdit Ashtiyeh/Flash90)
Palestinian security officers in the West Bank city of Nablus (Wagdit Ashtiyeh/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority security personnel arrested overnight Friday-Saturday 21 people associated with Hamas’s student organization at Najah University, near the West Bank city of Nablus, the Gaza-based terrorist group said.

The arrests came on the heels of one of the biggest raids on Hamas by the PA in years, which resulted in the arrest of 108 members of the group throughout the West Bank on Thursday and Friday. Several senior Hamas officials were among those arrested in the raid.

The raids were conducted in Hebron, Nablus and Bethlehem, Walla News reported.

Hamas spokesman Husam Badran protested to the Palinfo news site that the “crazy” security measures undertaken by Palestinian Authority forces against Hamas in the West Bank were meant to stop the recent spate of deadly Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

He accused Palestinian security forces of working for Israel and said the group holds Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas personally responsible for the “persecution and terror” applied by his forces. Hamas will continue attacks against Israelis in the West Bank, he said.

Badran also called on all factions to unite against PA measures, “which are tearing at the fabric of the Palestinian people.”

“It is our right to use all means to stop the crimes against our senior members in the West Bank,” he was quoted as saying.

A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority security services, Adnan Dameri, said: “We will not let Hamas undermine our security and draw our country to bloodshed; we will not let Hamas carry out attacks in the West Bank.”

The arrests were part of one of the biggest mass raids since 2007 when Hamas violently ousted forces loyal to Abbas from Gaza, leaving him governing just parts of the West Bank.

There has been a sharp uptick in violent attacks against Israelis in recent weeks, with at least one of the assailants said to be affiliated with Hamas.

On Tuesday, 25-year-old Malachy Moshe Rosenfeld died of wounds sustained a day earlier in a shooting attack in the West Bank.

Last Sunday a Palestinian man stabbed and seriously injured a female Israeli Border Police officer outside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate. The assailant, said to be a Hamas member or sympathizer, was shot and captured.

Last Friday a Palestinian assailant was shot and killed by IDF soldiers after he opened fire on Israeli troops at a checkpoint in the West Bank. No soldiers were injured in the attack.

On June 19, a 25-year-old Israeli man, Danny Gonen, died after being shot near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Jerusalem.

AP contributed to this report

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