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50 arrested during pre-dawn sweeps in Hebron

21 August 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

Just before dawn today, Sunday August 21, IDF forces raided the towns of Hebron and Bethlehem in the West Bank. Preliminary reports indicate that up to 250 people have been arrested in Hebron, including at least 70 Hamas leaders. Twitter feeds on the ground speak of occupation forces closing all entrances to the city and stationing themselves in the streets. Later reports finalized the count to approximately 50 Palestinians being arrested, as others were released.

No statement has been released by Israel concerning the reason for the raids and arrests. A group of ISM activists stationed in Hebron have rushed to the scene, as have ISM activists in Nablus.

At approximately 1:30 am, 40 soldiers raided four family homes on Ein  Sarah St.  alone and around. According to the International Middle East Media Center,over 100 military vehicles and jeeps entered Hebron from 4 entrances, and raided 6 villages in addition to Hebron City, breaking into homes and occupying the streets, from which Palestinian security services were conspicuously absent  The soldiers moved from home to home in  4 jeeps, a transport carrier (presumably for those arrested), 2 Land Rovers (thought to be Shabak) and two regular cars. Soldiers were carrying live ammunition but met no resistance to the arrests.

In one household they failed to find the person they were looking for so they arrested his 60 year old father instead.

B. Jabal , a local resident, described why he felt the arrests had taken place.  “This is collective punishment for the Palestinians in response to the recent shootings in Eilat.  We want peace, and our leaders want peace , but the Israelis keep killing and destroying our houses and destroying trees,” he said.

Gaza was surprisingly quiet tonight, given that it is has been under seige for the last 3 days; apparently, the occupation forces spent the night gearing up to sweep through the West Bank. So far, it looks like the only rationale behind the offensive may be the targeting of Hamas leaders, in retaliation for Thursday’s attacks in Eilat; this retaliatory gesture is surprising, however, since not a shred of evidence exists to tie Thursday’s attacks to Hamas.

Locals in Hebron also reported that a 17 year old Palestinian was run over and killed by a settler near the illegal settlement of Qiryat Arba.  Israeli forces also assaulted and detained a Palestinian man during a raid on the home of the Mufti of Bethlehem, in the refugee camp of Duheisha. So far, 2 Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli gunfire in Bethlehem. Details have yet to be confirmed.