Israel arrests 37 in West Bank as manhunt drags on

Israeli troops have so far arrested 361 people - among them 250 Hamas members and 57 who were freed during a 2011 prisoner swap deal.

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JERUSALEM // Israeli troops detained 37 Palestinians in the West Bank overnight as its arrest campaign entered its 11th day on Monday.

Still, there were no signs of the three teenagers believed to have been kidnapped by Hamas.

Since the youths disappeared from a hitch-hiking stop in the southern West Bank on June 12, Israel has been rounding up hundreds of Palestinians in a bid to find them, while also dealing a crushing blow to the Islamist movement’s West Bank network.

But with tensions rising among the Palestinian population over the crackdown which has seen four Palestinians killed by troops over the past week, commentators believe the campaign is about to shift focus to intelligence-gathering rather than mass arrests.

“Overnight, the forces detained 37 suspects and searched 80 locations, specifically in the area north west of Hebron, Beit Awwa [southwest of Hebron] and also in [the northern city of] Jenin,” a spokeswoman said.

So far, troops have arrested 361 people, among them 250 Hamas members and 57 who were freed during a 2011 prisoner swap deal to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, a soldier held in Gaza for five years by Hamas, the army said.

Despite the operation, there has been no claim of responsibility and no sign of the missing teenagers, although military spokesman General Motti Almoz said on Sunday that all information indicated they “are alive”.

* Agence France-Presse