NABLUS, Palestinian Territories–Israeli security forces arrested 29 Hamas activists overnight during a major sweep in the northern West Bank, the army said on Wednesday. A Palestinian security source confirmed that ��around 30 people�� had been detained in and around the northern city of Nablus, most of whom were Hamas members. Among those arrested were university students and a journalist. Troops also confiscated computers and cellphones, the source said.
The Israeli army confirmed arresting 29 people, among them senior figures within the movement and former prisoners detained for involvement in Hamas activity, in a joint operation which involved soldiers, police, border police and the Shin Bet internal security service. ��The arrests took place following an increase of Hamas activity in the Nablus area with the aim of carrying out terror activity against Israel. The detainees that were involved in funding and direction of Hamas branches overseas were sent to the Shin Bet for interrogation,�� a statement said. The sweep raised to 49 the number of Hamas activists arrested by Israel since April 1, the army said. Since the kidnapping and subsequent murders of three Israeli teenagers in the southern West Bank last June, there has been a rise in the number of Hamas activists arrested by the army, with hundreds now behind bars.
Hamas, which is the de facto ruler in the Gaza Strip, has also faced a crackdown in the West Bank by the security forces of the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by the rival Fatah movement.
In March, between 40 and 60 Hamas activists were arrested by Palestinian security forces.