Agence France Presse (AFP)
July 16, 2008 - 3:17pm

NABLUS, Occupied West Bank: Israeli troops abducted 12 Hamas members in a dawn raid in the Occupied West Bank on Tuesday, a Palestinian security official said, as part of a widening crackdown on the Islamist movement. The troops rolled into the northern city of Nablus in about 40 jeeps and detained 12 members of the movement, including two women and two city council members, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

An Israeli Army spokesman said seven Palestinians had been arrested during what he called "routine searches" in the area.

Israel has launched a territory-wide crackdown on Palestinian charities and businesses it says are linked to the movement, which violently seized power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after winning democratic elections in January 2006 and then facing a challenge from its rivals in US-backed President Mahmoud's Abbas' Fatah faction. Israel has long feared a repeat of the Gaza takeover - in which Hamas fighters swiftly routed forces loyal to Abbas - in the West Bank.

Abbas' government has accused Israel, however, of undermining its own efforts to improve security in the territory as part of US-sponsored peace talks relaunched in November.

Also on Tuesday, Israel authorities demolished the home of a Palestinian family in Occupied Jerusalem, saying it ha been built without the necessary permit. Israeli officials rarely issue such permits to Palestinians. - AFP, with The Daily Star


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