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Amid Gaza war, tensions in Judea and Samaria continue to rise

Israel arrested hundreds of Hamas members, dozens killed in clashes

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Ramallah, October 13, 2023. (Photo: Flash90)

Amid Israel's ongoing war against the Hamas terror organization in Gaza, tensions in Judea and Samaria have been rising as Israeli officials arrested close to 200 Hamas members since the outbreak of the war a little over one week ago.

Israel aims to isolate the front against Hamas from other sensitive areas in the country and has, therefore, tightened its grip on the West Bank by reinforcing army and police forces and limiting the movement of the Palestinian population.

Israel Defense Forces especially stepped up its nightly raids ever since Hamas repeatedly called on Israeli Arabs and Arab citizens of the West Bank to join the war against Israel and to rise up against the “occupation.”

IDF, Israeli Police, Border Police, and the Shin Bet security agency have arrested 330 people in raids across the Judea and Samaria, internationally known as the West Bank, as of Sunday. The number includes 190 people affiliated with Hamas, with 33 of them arrested in Saturday raids overnight. Among those reportedly captured were two senior Hamas operatives from Nablus, Adnan Asfur (59) and Ahmad Awad (49).

Terror funds of over NIS 4.7 million (about $1.18 million) belonging to Hamas and its terror-affiliated organizations were also confiscated during the raids.

At least 40 Palestinians have been killed in clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Judea and Samaria in the last week.

Many of the West Bank’s major cities have seen massive rallies in support of Hamas in its war against Israel, further raising tensions and leading to a sharp uptick in attempted terror attacks and violent clashes between residents of Arab towns and Israeli settlers.

As a result, many settlements increased security patrols, mostly carried out by armed civilian volunteers.

Some Arab villages have pre-emptively evacuated out of fear of reprisal attacks by neighboring settler communities since last Saturday’s massacre of Israeli and foreign civilians by Hamas.

IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari urged citizens not to take the law into their own hands on Saturday, saying, “The responsibility for security in the settlements and on the roads lies with the army alone.”

The increase in volunteer patrols was not only implemented in the West Bank but took place across Israel, with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir easing restrictions to obtain a weapon in order to increase security across the country.

Israel's National Security Ministry said it would distribute 10,000 firearms, plus combat gear, protective vests, and helmets to Israeli civilians, but will focus on residents of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria who are especially under threat at this time.

“We will change the world so that the settlements will be protected,” Ben Gvir said.

“I have ordered the massive arming of the civilian standby units in order to protect the settlements and the cities.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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