Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian during a military operation in the West bank city of Nablus, on April 5, 2006
Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian during a military operation in the West bank city of Nablus, on April 5, 2006. Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service claim to have arrested 20 members of Hamas' armed wing in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. © Jaafar Ashtiyeh - AFP/File
Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian during a military operation in the West bank city of Nablus, on April 5, 2006
AFP
Last updated: January 31, 2013

Israel says 20 Hamas armed wing members arrested

Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service and army said on Thursday that some 20 members of Hamas' armed wing have been arrested in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The Shin Bet and army arrested "approximately 20 terrorists affiliated with the Hamas who were planning a kidnapping attack in order to bargain for the release of prisoners," a joint statement read.

It said they were arrested over the past few months.

"A variety of ammunition was discovered, including more than 10 different kinds of weapons," the statement said.

According to the Shin Bet, the group "represented a Hamas attempt to establish a local Hamas headquarters in Hebron."

"The terrorists were indicted with the charge of weapon possession, contacting a hostile organisation and conspiracy to kidnap an IDF soldier," the statement read.

Israel has seen a recent increase in Palestinian unrest, and the Shin Bet tied the upswing to November's eight-day battle between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Security sources have told AFP that Israel plans to step up arrests of suspected militants in the occupied West Bank to prevent a rising tide of low-intensity conflict and civil unrest from turning into an uprising.

Hebron is the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, and home to some 190,000 Palestinian residents. But around 600 Israeli hard-core settlers also live in the heart of Hebron, protected by a large military presence.

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