Israeli forces arrest 20 more Palestinians in widening West Bank raids

Israel says the crackdown aims to break up Palestinian militant groups following a series of attacks against Israelis last year.

Israeli forces have arrested 20 more Palestinians in a series of overnight raids across the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian reports, as a crackdown by Israel shows no signs of letting up.

The Palestinian Wafa news agency said 17 Palestinians were arrested by Israeli troops in the town of Dhahriya, south of Hebron. Two others were detained in the Askar refugee camp near Nablus, and one more in the city of Hebron itself.

The wave of arrests comes after earlier reports of Israeli soldiers shooting and injuring four Palestinians during a raid in the city of Qalqilya. Troops also conducted a spate of arrests in the nearby town of Jayyous.

Since the latest escalation of Israeli raids began last October 7th, Israel has carried out more than 9,000 arrests across the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said. The near-nightly arrest operations, coupled with militant shootings, have fueled one of the worst outbreaks of Israeli-Palestinian violence in years.

Israel says the crackdown aims to break up Palestinian militant groups following a series of attacks against Israelis last year. The Palestinians view it as a harsh form of collective punishment and an entrenchment of Israel’s open-ended occupation, now in its 56th year.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the latest arrests. But it has repeatedly said its operations are essential in disrupting militant networks and preventing future attacks.

Palestinian leaders have harshly condemned the raids, which have seen Israeli troops unleash live fire in densely populated areas, at times hitting civilians. Angry protests against the military incursions have flared, further fueling the cycle of bloodshed.

So far this year, over 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, according to Palestinian tracking figures, making 2023 the deadliest in those territories since 2004. Over 80 of those killed were civilians. At least 26 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis over the same period.

There is no sign of the violence abating anytime soon. Israeli officials have vowed to continue the raids, while recent attacks by Palestinian militants in Israel and the West Bank suggest armed groups will try to step up activities during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.