Israeli troops arrested 55 Palestinian “terror operatives” across the West Bank overnight, hours after a truce came into effect in the Gaza Strip, the army said Thursday.
“A total of 55 terror operatives, who are affiliated with different terror groups have been detained. Among those arrested were a number of senior level operatives,” a statement said, with Israeli public radio saying it included members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
It said the swoop was related to “recent terrorist and violent activity” in the West Bank, which has seen days of widespread protests and clashes over Israel’s relentless bombing campaign targeting militants in the Gaza Strip.
The violence in and around Gaza ended at 1900 GMT on Wednesday when an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement came into force.
Protests and clashes with Israeli police returned to the West Bank following years of relative calm as the Jewish state made efforts to improve relations with the territory’s Fatah leadership while isolating the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Palestinian officials have been watching the rise of West Bank unrest with concern.
A senior officer in the West Bank’s security forces said on Wednesday he believed the situation remained under control in Palestinian-run districts.
But he pointed to growing pressures in zones patrolled by the Israelis — areas with Jewish settlements that the international community sees as illegal.
“For now, we have not had any major security problems that threaten the future of the Palestinian Authority”, General Adnan Doumeri told AFP.
“There are no problems in areas under our control but there are problems in areas under Israeli control,” he said.
The Gaza violence has seen the rival Hamas and Fatah movements announce an agreement to end years of squabbling, in a show of solidarity.
The two sides are now shortly expected to hold a meeting between their most senior leaders.