As Operation Brother's Keeper entered its ninth day Saturday, Palestinian sources reported an escalation in violence between Israeli security forces and West Bank residents.
A Palestinian teenager aged 15 was shot dead in a confrontation with the Israel Defense Forces during a riot in the West Bank village of Dura early on Friday. Another Palestinian, aged 22, was critically hurt by IDF gunfire in clashes near the Qalandiyah checkpoint. There were conflicting reports as to whether or not he later died of his wounds.
Since the disappearance of Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaer, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, late on Thursday, June 12, there has been no indication as to their fate, nor have any demands been made by their kidnappers.
Israeli security forces have rounded up nearly 400 Palestinians since the start of the operation to rescue the teenagers. More than 50 of those arrested were among the 1,027 prisoners freed by Israel in 2011 as part of an exchange deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said that the Israeli military sweep was unacceptable, but said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would continue assisting Israel in an effort to end the crisis, Reuters reported Friday. He also said that Abbas would prevent any uprising in the West Bank despite escalating tensions with Israel.
On Thursday, Hamas denounced the Palestinian Authority's security cooperation with Israel, deeming it a violation of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. A Hamas spokesman also said that if Israel carries out its threat of expelling Hamas leadership from the West Bank to Gaza, it would be "opening the gates of hell."
6:54 A.M. A Palestinian armed with a grenade was apprehended by security forces near Sde Avraham, an Israeli community near the Gaza Strip. (Gili Cohen and Shirly Seidler)
6:41 A.M. According to Palestinian news agencies, a 26-year-old Palestinian named Ahmad Fahmawi was killed by the Border Policein the Al-Ein refugee camp near Nablus. An initial investigation revealed the Border Police fired after Fahmawi forcefully charged at them. A senior IDF official later said Fahmawi was mentally unstable. (Gili Cohen)
4:20 A.M. The Israeli Air Force attacked four targets in southern Gaza late Saturday night following rocket fire launched from Gaza, which landed in the southern Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. The IDF said that it will "not tolerate attempts to harm Israeli citizens or IDF soldiers, and will act against anyone who operates terror against Israel." (Gili Cohen)
12:45 A.M. IDF forces operating in the West Bank have arrested around 330 Palestinians in less than 10 days; some 260 of these are identified as Hamas associates. The operation is intended to find the abducted teens and their captors, as well as, according to Chief-of-Staff Benny Ganz, to further damage Hamas which is viewed as being behind the kidnapping.
The army, together with the Shin Bet security services, have arrested 54 men who had been released as part of the Gilad Shalit swap deal. Of these, 35 are associated with Hamas. After their arrest, security officials said that legal steps would be taken to make sure justice is served, possibly having them serve their full original sentences. This would ensure that they stay in prison for a long time.
So far, according to Palestinian sources, seven of those arrested have been brought before the administrative committee that is examining cases of supposed violations of the conditions set for their earlier release. The IDF spokesman said that “names were presented to the committee after violations of the release conditions. The number of committees that will conduct hearings will be determined later.”
The committee is composed of military judges who will decide on whether the arrested men will serve their full sentences. The military advocate general is the one who presents the cases to the committee, to determine if a violation of the documents signed in 2011 has occurred. The proceedings can take place even in the absence of the detainee or his representative. (Gili Cohen)
11:50 P.M. Two rockets launched from Gaza landed in the southern Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. None were wounded. (Gili Cohen)
11:15 P.M. Col. Eliezer Toledano, the commander of the Paratroopers Brigade, says that, in recent days, forces have focused their search in areas northwest of Hebron. The soldiers, he says, "are leaving no stone unturned" in their search for a potential hiding place and for any clues that could shed light on the incident.
Toledano added that as far as he is concerned, there is no deadline for the operation's completion. He said he would continue working "until my commanders tell me, 'Enough, go do something else.'"
When asked whether the overnight raids on Hamas targets could harm the search for the kidnapped teens, he said that the army can do "two or three things at once… We are do [various things] simultaneously without any problem." (Gili Cohen)
9:57 P.M. Soldiers are conducting sweeps near Hebron over the weekend. The search also includes water holes and wells. A military senior officer says that the mission to retrieve the three kidnapped teens 'moral enough' and that it justifies the emptying of Palestinian water holes. (Chaim Levinson)
6:35 P.M. Despite the government's efforts to link top Hamas officials to the abduction of the three teenagers, evidence that the organization's leaders from outside the West Bank are involved in the kidnapping remains slim, writes Haaretz analyst Amos Harel.
4:15 P.M. The military operation to locate the three teens who were kidnapped while hitchhiking in the West Bank "will be short and end soon," says Knesset member David Tsur (Hatnua), a former high-ranking police officer. Tsur accuses rabbis at West Bank yeshivas of failing to provide students with the necessary transport to and from the Jewish seminaries, which compels them to hitchhike, and puts them at risk of abduction.
12:54 P.M. According to Palestinian media, 37 people were arrested overnight by IDF forces: 20 in Bethlehem, 11 in Hebron, three in Jenin and three in Jerico. (Jack Khoury)
11:07 A.M. Israeli troops arrested overnight Saturday at least 10 Palestinians in the West Bank. Forces raided 15 charities and 146 homes. The closed military zone decree for the area north of Hebron is still in effect. (Jack Khoury, Gili Cohen)
10:33 A.M. Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinians in the West Bank city of el-Bireh near Ramallah on Saturday morning, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reports.
10:26 A.M. The Palestinian news agency Ma'an reports a Palestinian man in his 60s dies of a heart attack in an Israeli army raid on his village in the north West Bank on Saturday morning.
According to the report, Ali Abed Jabir from the village of Haris suffered the heart attack in the midst of an argument with Israeli troops who broke into his home.
9:24 A.M. A Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip lands in open area in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Rocket alert was sounded, and none were injured. (Gili Cohen)
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