Hebron (West Bank), June 24 (Reuters): Israeli troops rounded up more than 130 Palestinians in sweeps for suspected militants today, drawing Palestinian charges that Israel was trying to sabotage efforts to reach a ceasefire.
The raids in Nablus and Hebron, the two largest West Bank cities, added to tensions surrounding faltering moves to implement a US-backed “road map” for ending nearly 33 months of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has been trying to persuade Hamas and other militant groups to call a temporary truce with Israel to end a cycle of violence that has battered the peace plan affirmed at a US-led summit on June 4.
Parallel talks between top Israeli and Palestinian security officials ended with no final agreement overnight on a proposed Israeli troop pullback from the northern Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
Within hours, Israeli forces launched raids in the West Bank in operations the army said were aimed at “terrorists and their helpers” behind suicide bombings and other attacks on Israelis.
About 130 Palestinians, including suspected militants and people wanted for questioning, were rounded up without resistance in sweeps targeting the Islamic group Hamas in Hebron, an army spokeswoman said. She said five more suspects were arrested in Nablus after clashes with gunmen.
“It is an Israeli madness aimed at undermining any move forward,” Palestinian Cabinet minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said.
“These arrests are an attempt to sabotage the understanding with Hamas. Israel does not want a ceasefire.”