JERUSALEM Ñ Israel's military has launched a search operation for
Hamas insurgents in the West Bank at the same time the United States has intensified efforts to achieve a ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority..
Israeli military sources said the focus of the operation was the
southern West Bank city of Hebron. The sources said a combined task force of
regular and special troops operated in Hebron on Tuesday and arrested scores
of Hamas insurgents and supporters.
So far, the sources said, more than 130 Hamas members and supporters
were arrested, Middle East Newsline reported. They said they operation was meant to eliminate the Hamas
infrastructure in the city in wake of the killing of Hamas's commander in
the West Bank, Abdullah Qawasmeh.
Qawasmeh led a Hamas cell that was said to have killed more than 50
Israelis in a series of suicide bombings in such cities in Haifa and
Jerusalem. He was killed in an Israeli operation in Hebron over the weekend.
"The activity is meant to destroy the Hamas infrastructure, " Lt. Col.
Doron, a senior commander in the operation, said.
Doron said the identity of the Hamas members came from intelligence
sources. He said the Hamas members did not resist arrest.
The military sources said the operation was prompted by a need for
additional intelligence on Hamas cells in Hebron. They said Israeli military
intelligence had warned of a shortage of information on what was regarded as
the largest Hamas stronghold in the West Bank.
Israeli military sources said another 20 Palestinian insurgents, many of
them Hamas members, were arrested in other areas of the West Bank overnight
The two sides have discussed the transfer of security responsibility for the
Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Bethlehem from Israel to the PA.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas gunners fired a Kassam-2 short-range missile
toward Israel. Mortars were also fired toward Israeli communities in the