The IDF arrested some 40 Palestinian suspects, most of them Hamas members, in Nablus overnight Tuesday, expanding its operation to retrieve three abducted Israelis northwards from its epicenter in Hebron.

On the fifth day of Operation Brothers's Keeper, a thousand soldiers launched raids in Nablus's Balata and Awarta areas. A total of 200 suspects have been arrested since the start of the operation.

In addition to the arrests, soldiers on Tuesday seized handguns, explosives, and grenades. A security source said a large quantity of weapons was recovered during the arrests, describing the raids as a large-scale counter-terrorism clean-up operation.

"Everything linked to Hamas is being targeted," the source stated, adding that this includes civilian organizations linked to the terrorist organizations, municipal figures, and the organization's military wing.

Meanwhile, the IDF is maintaining its closure on the South Mount Hebron region. Palestinians in that area have not faced a military closure for seven years, and army sources said the measure is increasing the pressure on the local population to assist the IDF's effort to recover the abducted Israeli youths.

There have been few significant clashes during the raids, a reflection of the fact that Palestinian areas have grown accustomed to nightly IDF raids launched on a regular basis in recent years, according to the source. This contrasts with the situation ten years ago, when many raids in villages would turn into violent clashes.

Meanwhile, the air force bombed four targets in Gaza early on Tuesday, in response to Palestinian rocket fire on southern Israel the previous day. Targets included a terrorism base and a weapons storage site in southern Gaza, a weapons storage site in central Gaza, and an arms production facility in the north of the Strip.

"We are alert to developments in the southern [Gazan] arena at all times," the security source said. "We understand that these arenas are linked, and that one can set off the other." The source spoke of an ongoing two-pronged effort in the West Bank.

The first consisted of an investigation to track down the three missing youths, while the second targets Hamas throughout the whole of the West Bank, including Hamas members whose activity is designed to "portray Hamas as a government."



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