JERUSALEM: Israel further tightened its grip on the West Bank yesterday, arresting another 65 people, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas lashed out at those behind the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers.
As the hunt for the youths entered its sixth day, there was no let-up in Israel’s drive to deal a crushing blow to the West Bank infrastructure of Islamist movement Hamas, which it has blamed for the kidnapping.
As troops pressed their biggest arrest operation in years, imposing a tight lockdown on huge swathes of the West Bank, Abbas blasted those behind the teens’ disappearance, saying they were trying to “destroy” the Palestinian people. And he defended the security coordination between the Palestinian and Israel, sparking a furious denunciation by Hamas.
“Those who kidnapped the three teenagers want to destroy us. We will hold them accountable,” Abbas told a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Saudi Arabia. “It is in our interest to have security coordination with Israel, because that would help protect us,” he said. “We will never have another intifada (Palestinian uprising) — that would destroy us.”
Hamas denounced his remarks as “harmful” to a fledgling reconciliation deal between it and the Palestinian leadership.
Pundits have said Israel is seeking to use the massive military operation to bring about the collapse of the newly formed unity government, established with the backing of its foe Hamas.
Israeli troops arrested another 65 Palestinians, among them 51 who had been released as part of the Shalit deal. Since the searches began on Friday, troops have arrested 240 Palestinians, searched more than 800 locations and raided 10 Hamas-run institutions, the army said. AFP