Israeli Army Arrests Dozens of Palestinian Students in West Bank on Suspicion of Terrorist Activity

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Israeli soldiers at the Tapuah junction in the West Bank, in May.
Israeli soldiers at the Tapuah junction in the West Bank, in May. Credit: Moti Milrod

The Israeli army arrested dozens of Palestinian students suspected of terror activity in the West Bank village of Thermos Aya, north of Ramallah, on Wednesday.

The army says the suspects belong to a Hamas student cell at Ramallah's Birzeit University, and that some of them "were directly involved in terrorist activities." The university says they are concerned about the arrests and are closely following reports, calling on the international community to work toward their release.

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Hamas issued a statement condemning the arrests, stating that Israel's attempts to harm the spirit of resistance among young people would fail, saying "This is a miserable attempt to intimidate students."

Protesting Wednesday night's arrests, Birzeit University said that it considers Israel's conduct to constitute "a blatant violation of all international laws and values that guarantee freedom of movement for students as well."

According to the Palestinian media, Israel arrested about 45 students who had come to visit the family home of Muntasir Shalabi, which was razed by Israeli army forces last week. In May, Shalabi shot and killed 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta and injured two other Israeli citizens at the Tapuah junction in the West Bank.

Testimonies, including that of the head of the local council in Thermos Aya, indicate that the Israeli army set up a temporary checkpoint at the exit of the village. The soldiers forced the students to get off the bus, sat them down on the road, handcuffed them, blindfolded them and then took them to an unknown location, testimonies further allege. 

The head of a local Palestinian council says it is unclear whether the checkpoint had been set up specifically to arrest the students.

The IDF announced the arrests in a statement released on Wednesday night, in which it asserted that some suspects were "involved in transferring money, incitement and organizing Hamas activities in the West Bank." The Shin Bet security service and the Border Police also participated in the arrest of the suspects, according to the army's statement.

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