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Iran Press TV

Israel steps up West Bank raids as support for Hamas rises

Iran Press TV

Mon Dec 17, 2018 10:40AM

Nearly two dozen Palestinians have been arrested in a stepped-up Israeli crackdown in the West Bank amid the perception that support for Hamas is rising in the occupied territories.

The rival Fatah party rules the West Bank but the territories have witnessed the worst clashes between security forces of the Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas and protesters over the week.

On Friday, the West Bank experienced military raids of extraordinary proportions compared to recent years after protests were held in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron (al-Khalil) to mark the 31st anniversary of Hamas.

Local police fired into the air and beat demonstrators after participants raised a Hamas flag and refused to wave Fatah and other flags.

Further incidents in which three Israelis, including two soldiers, were killed near settlements in the West Bank have reinforced the patriotic image of the resistance movement because they have been associated with a Hamas cell.

In contrast, the Palestinian Authority's image has been established as the "subcontractor of the occupation," with its security forces working in the shadow of Israeli troops.

Palestinian police always disappear whenever Israeli troops raid neighborhoods in the West Bank, breaking into shops and homes and shooting at stone-throwing young people.

Under the Oslo Accords of 1993, the Palestinian National Security Forces are prohibited from defending their compatriots from Israeli military attacks.

Israeli troops arrested 18 Palestinians on Monday, taking the total number of those detained in the West Bank since last Sunday to more than 300, Press TV correspondent in Ramallah Mona Kandil reported.

"Two Palestinian homes have been demolished since last week," she said, referring to Tel Aviv's policy of razing the houses of those it accuses of violence against Israeli troops or civilians.

On Saturday, Israeli forces blew up a house in the al-Am'ari refugee camp in Ramallah, owned by the mother of Islam Abu Hamid who is in prison.

Israel's ministerial legislative committee also advanced a bill on Sunday allowing expulsion of the families of those accused by the regime of "terrorism."

The draft legislation, which now needs Knesset approval, "allows for members of a terrorist family to be forcibly evacuated from their home community within seven days of an attack or attempted attack," The Jerusalem Post reported.

"This is an important step in restoring deterrence," said hardline Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett, who had advocated for the bill.

The Israeli troops were killed after an attacker emerged from a vehicle and shot at soldiers near the settlements of Beit El and Ofra on Thursday.

The shootings came after Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in separate operations over the span of only six hours.

"The Palestinian public views the incidents in which Israeli soldiers and civilians were shot near the Givat Assaf outpost and the entrance to the settlement of Ofra as legitimate acts of heroism against the endless encroachment of settlers in the area," Israeli daily Haaretz wrote on Monday.

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh defended the attacks as he addressed nearly half a million Palestinians gathered at al-Katiba square in the center of Gaza on Sunday to to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the founding of Hamas.

"I will also respond to the Zionists who are saying what is happening in the West Bank is based on directives and arrangements from Gaza. This is an accusation that we do not deny… because it is a source of pride reigning over all of us," Haniyeh said.

Netanyahu warns Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a warning to Hamas.

"I conveyed a clear message to Hamas -- we won't accept a situation of a truce in Gaza and terror in Judea and Samaria," Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting, using Israel's choice of reference to the West Bank.

Meanwhile, an adviser to Abbas told The Jerusalem Post that security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel will not be affected by the recent flare-up in the West Bank, the Israeli paper reported.

The assertion came hours after Egyptian intelligence officials visited Ramallah where they held talks with Abbas on ways of calming the situation.

The Egyptian officials, the adviser said, expressed support for Abbas, urging him "to take the necessary measures to prevent a further deterioration."

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