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(photo credit: AP [file])
A newly deployed Palestinian security force has conducted its first crackdown in Hebron.
Officials said the overnight raid targeted criminals and Hamas loyalists in Samoua, a town close to Hebron. Palestinian police and intelligence units smashed down doors and rounded up around 20 men.
Hebron police chief Ramadan Awad said the men were all "fugitives," but he gave no further details.
Monday's raid was the latest step in cautious security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Nearly 600 Palestinian Authority police officers were deployed last weekend in the sections of Hebron under PA control.
The deployment, meanwhile, which was coordinated with the IDF, enraged the 1,000 settlers living in the city.
This "illegal move," which put "terrorists in uniform," was one more symptom of a "corrupt and failed government" that was about to fall apart, Hebron Jewish community spokeswoman Orit Struck said.
Hebron, a former Hamas stronghold, is the third West Bank city to be reinforced with forces loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas recently.
The move, authorized by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, reflects the growing cooperation between Israel and the PA in the effort to block a Hamas takeover of the West Bank.
The IDF said in a statement that the Palestinian operation was a temporary measure to help combat Hamas and maintain public order, and did not constitute a transfer of overall security responsibility in Hebron from Israeli to PA forces.
The Palestinian forces will not patrol the Israeli-controlled sector.
Tovah Lazoroff contributed to this report.
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