In a major escalation of force not seen since the Second Intifada, tonight Israeli military vehicles are inside cities across the West Bank, and the army has enacted a curfew in a Nablus area town.
The raids come in the aftermath of the abduction of three Israeli youths last Thursday. At the time of publication, Israeli army vehicles are inside of Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Bethlehem, East Jerusalem, Qalqilya and Salfit. The army is also in the towns of al-Bireh (Ramallah district), Jalazone refugee camp (Ramallah district) Azzun (near Qalqilya), Abud (Ramallah district), Khibata, Beit Fajr (Bethlehem district) (Ramallah District) and Tel (Nablus district). The only population center in the West Bank that does not have Israeli soldiers patrolling and carrying out arrests is in the resort city of Jericho, the first municipality declared under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
In Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government, Israeli soldiers have taken control of the streets. Vehicles are currently patrolling several neighborhoods including Tira, Hizba and Surdah, which is near the presidential compound. In addition, the army is raiding the TV station Al Aqsa News, and the station’s manager was arrested the previous evening.
In Hebron, the army is entering homes in door-to-door searches in the western part of the city. Local media is reporting live fire and explosions in the center of town. Shops have also been broken into with the Israeli Defense Forces confiscating surveillance footage.
Last night, Issa Amro, an activist with Youth Against Settlements, reported that the army entered the Hebron area Ministry of Interior building and confiscated a population registry for the city. The army has been inside of Hebron, the West Bank’s largest city, since Friday afternoon.
An Israeli army commander has said the overnight incursions underway will be bigger than Operation “Defensive Shield” in Jenin in 2002, Ma’an News Agency reported. All of the arrests reported during the raids underway were of individuals released during the 2011 prisoner exchange.
Tali Shapiro and Mohammed Othman contributed to this report. Tali is an activist with the Boycott from Within and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and Mohammed is a human rights activist.