The Israel Defense Forces arrested 41 Palestinians overnight Monday in the West Bank, as the search for three kidnapped teenagers continued. Approximately half of the arrests took place in the Nablus region.
The operation involved about 1,000 soldiers from the Nahal infantry brigade, who raided, among other locations, the Balata refugee camp and the nearby town of Awarta. The force uncovered a variety of weapons, including pistols, explosives, grenades and ammunition. A machine shop manufacturing improvised weapons was shut down by the army.
A high-ranking officer described the operation to Haaretz as "a kind of thorough cleaning," adding that "the IDF concentrated its activity on Nablus, which served in the past as the terrorism capital, and will continue to do so over the next few days."
As a part of the military's efforts to disrupt Hamas activities, computers belonging to an organization affiliated with Hamas were seized in Bethlehem. In a meeting of senior officers that took place Monday night, the IDF decided "to expand the treatment of Hamas in the West Bank, and use the upcoming days to arrest anyone 'infected' with Hamas," the senior officer told Haaretz. The army did not log any irregular confrontations between Israeli forces and the Palestinian population during the operation in the Nablus region, or in the continued activities in the Hebron area.
The IDF continued to enforce a blockade on the southern West Bank, which was placed on Sunday. The blockade is increasing the stress levels of the area's residents.
With regard to the hunt for the kidnappers, the senior officer said he did not feel that time was running out, adding that the search operation would continue as long as it takes to find the three missing teenagers. The search will continue "as long as targets are found, or we think that there are targets associated with Hamas and directly or indirectly related to the abduction that need to be arrested," he said.
Meanwile, the IDF struck four targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Monday, in response to rockets fired at Israel earlier that day. None of the rockets were reported as hitting Israeli territory. According to the army, the Israel Air Force bombed terrorist sites and an arms depot in the southern Gaza Strip, another arms depot in central Gaza and an additional site in northern Gaza.
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