Israel arrests scores of women in West Bank

Palestinians inspect damage to their home in the village of Awarta after an Israeli raid last month [REUTERS]

Israeli troops have stormed Awarta village in the northern West Bank, arresting more than 100 women as they hunted the killers of an Israeli family from the illegal settlement of Itamar, officials said.

The military also used bulldozers to destroy Palestinian houses in a northern farming village east of Tubas, in an area under Israeli control, according to Palestinian security officials.

In Awarta, hundreds of troops entered the village shortly after midnight on Thursday and imposed a curfew after which they began rounding up women, many of whom were elderly, local council head Tayis Awwad told the AFP news agency.

They continued to carry out house-to-house searches through the night, he said.

The women were taken to a military camp where troops took their fingerprints – and DNA samples – before most were released, said the Palestinian sources.

It is understood 20 women remained in custody, which raises the total of those arrested from Awarta since the Itamar attack to 75, local officials told Al Jazeera.

An information blackout was placed on Thursday’s army actions in Awarta, a military official told the AFP news agency.

The Palestinian Authority condemned what spokesman Ghassan Khatib called the “endless campaigns of barbaric acts committed by the Israeli occupation army against the people of Awarta”.

Village targeted

The army has been conducting frequent raids on the village for the past four weeks, arresting scores of villagers following last month’s murders of five people in Itamar, one of dozens of settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory deemed illegal under international law.

Thursday’s raid, however, marked the first time they had arrested any women.

Hassan Awad, Awarta’s deputy mayor, said last week that 80 per cent of the houses in the village had been raided and 300 men and boys arrested.

About 40 of them were in jail at the time. None have yet been charged with any crime, and the military refuses to comment on the operation.

On Sunday, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, said Israel demolished 76 Palestinian homes in the West Bank in March – compared with 29 in January and 70 in February.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/04/201147213052467175.html

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