The IDF arrested 17 Palestinian security suspects overnight Wednesday, including Khaled Ibrahim, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and senior Hamas member, who was taken into custody in Bethlehem.
Minor disturbances occurred in Tulkarm during army raids.
Units also seized weapons in the Menashe region of the northern West Bank.
The IDF has rotated military forces in the area, deploying the headquarters of the 401st Armored Brigade in place of the Nahal infantry brigade, according to a military source.
The focal point of searches, in northwest Hebron, is being managed by the Kfir infantry brigade, which has many soldiers on the ground, the source stated.
“All of our intelligence efforts are focused on this operation,” the source added. “A part of this effort is intelligence-based, and it is focused on a specific area.
Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] personnel are taking part in this effort in the inner circles.”
Some 80 dogs from the IDF’s Oketz K-9 unit have been taking part in searches across the West Bank since the start of the operation.
The unit has accompanied infantry units on sweeps for weapons and arrests, as well as in efforts to track down the three abducted Israeli youths.
The unit’s dogs and their handlers inspect yards, buildings and water wells. During one of the sweeps last week, an Oketz dog leaped from the second floor of a building and died of his injuries the same day.
“During searches, we try to safeguard the dignity of those whose homes we enter,” the army source said. “We’re seeking to minimize unpleasantness.”
Meanwhile, the Israel Air Force bombed seven targets in the Gaza Strip late Tuesday in response to three rocket attacks against southern Israel. The Iron Dome system intercepted two incoming rockets south of Ashkelon. A third fell in open territory in southern Israel.
Targets in Gaza hit by the air force included five underground rocket launchers and two facilities used as weapons depots. A number of the targets belonged to Hamas, a senior security source said.
“This is exactly the issue of sovereignty,” the source stated.
“Those who are held responsible are the ones seen as the state [that rules over the territory from which attacks on Israel are launched].”
Israel will act firmly against terrorists firing rockets from Gaza at southern Israel, and against Hamas, which bears responsibility, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon vowed Wednesday during a graduation ceremony at an officer training base in the South.
“The reality you will encounter in the Middle East as commanders in the IDF,” Ya’alon said, addressing the new officers, “is turbulent [and] evasive, and it demands that all of us be open to changes and understand the depth and significance [of those changes].”
The officers, he said, will also encounter highly armed, well trained and relentless terror organizations that are replacing states, and a reality in which “terrorist elements in the Gaza Strip test our patience with a drizzle of rocket fire at southern communities – a drizzle we will not tolerate.”
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