Police said on Monday they detained 501 Palestinians who were in Israel illegally over the past day as part of an ongoing massive arrest sweep.
On Friday, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai ordered law enforcement to begin a nationwide operation against Palestinians who illegally enter Israel from the West Bank, and those who assist them, following Thursday’s deadly terror attack in Elad.
The police said on Monday that forces are operating “openly and clandestinely at all times” against illegal entry.
It also said that 51 people have been arrested for helping people to enter illegally, employing them or housing them.
Police said that in total, 851 Palestinians and 91 people suspected of aiding them have been arrested so far in the operation.
Breaches in the West Bank security barrier utilized by workers have been used by terrorists responsible for a number of attacks inside Israel in recent weeks, leading to vows from defense officials that the gaps will be repaired and the wall better guarded. Several of the attackers have crossed from the northern West Bank, leading the army to concentrate efforts in that area.
The most recent such attack was the deadly axe and knife spree in Elad on Thursday, in which three Israelis were killed. One of the victims, 35-year-old shuttle driver Oren Ben Yiftah from Lod, drove Subhi Emad Subhi Abu Shqeir and As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i from the area of the West Bank security barrier, where they are believed to have sneaked into Israel, to the ultra-Orthodox city.
Upon arriving, according to a statement from a security agency on condition of anonymity, the two attacked Ben Yiftah and killed him. From there, they headed up Ibn Gvirol Street, where they killed Elad residents Yonatan Havakuk and Boaz Gol.
Though technically illegal, a number of Israeli drivers work transporting Palestinian day laborers who sneak in from the West Bank to job sites around the country.
Ben Yiftah had reportedly transported the pair at least 10 times in the past to work in the ultra-Orthodox city, and was unaware of their attack plans.
Authorities believe the two had worked in Elad before and were familiar with the area. They were arrested not far from the site of the attack on Sunday, following a massive 60-hour manhunt.
Israelis have seen one of the deadliest terror waves in recent years over the past few weeks. Nineteen people have been killed in a series of attacks since March 22, most of them in central Israeli cities.
Israeli security forces subsequently stepped up their activities in the West Bank. Since April, Israeli raids have led to the deaths of at least 29 Palestinians. While many appear to have been involved in hostilities, others were reportedly unarmed civilians.