Police and agents of the Shin Beit security service raided several homes in settlement outposts in the West Bank early Sunday morning and detained at least nine people, police said.
One of the outposts targeted was Adei Ad, part of the Shiloh bloc of settlements. The outpost lies several kilometers from the Palestinian village of Duma, the scene of a firebombing on July 31 that killed a Palestinian infant and his father. The attack is believed to have been carried out by Jewish extremists.
The far-right legal aid organization Honenu said that in another raid, at the Kochav Hashahar settlement and the nearby Givat Habaladim outpost, also in the region of Duma, seven people were detained by security forces.
Full details of the raids were under a gag order, although initial reports after the firebombing attack said the killers may have set out for Duma from nearby settlement outposts.
The raids came as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was expected to approve more orders enabling security forces to hold far-right activists without trial.
A senior defense official told Israel Radio Sunday that there would be no easing of pressure on Israeli extremist groups and that security forces intended to apprehend the perpetrators behind the attack in Duma.
Applying the measure to hold suspects without trial, known as “administrative detention,” is meant to limit the freedom of activity of Jewish terror groups, the official was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile Sunday, security forces were bracing for an escalation of violence in the West Bank after Saad Dawabsha, the father of Ali Dawabsha, the Palestinian infant killed in the attack, succumbed to his wounds Saturday.
The defense official told Israel Radio that the IDF and other security forces were coordinating with the Palestinian Authority security apparatus as they remain on alert for possible revenge attacks from Palestinian groups, particularly Hamas. The official assessed that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is not interested in escalating tensions and is taking action to quell the anger among West Bank Palestinians.
Israel has boosted its military deployment in the West Bank since the firebombing attack.
Dawabsha’s funeral Saturday was attended by thousands, and marked by calls for “revenge” and declarations that “a million martyrs are marching on Jerusalem.” His wife and four-year-old son are still hospitalized in critical condition.
Amid the heightened fears of Palestinian reprisals over the Dawabsha killing, three Israeli soldiers were wounded when a Palestinian man plowed his car into them not far from Duma on Thursday afternoon. Two of the soldiers were still hospitalized in serious condition on Sunday morning.
Following the firebombing attack, which was widely condemned in Israel, the defense minster approved the use of administrative detention orders against Jewish far-right activists. Administrative detention is often used by security forces to detain Palestinian suspects in the West Bank for extended periods without trial.
Last Monday, Meir Ettinger, the grandson of the late Israeli-American ultranationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane, was arrested and held in detention over alleged connections to extremist activity. Several other Jewish activists are also being held without trial in the wake of the Duma attack.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.