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Israeli forces detain 4 Palestinians in predawn raids in southern West Bank

Feb. 12, 2017 4:31 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 12, 2017 8:34 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces carried out predawn military raids in the southern occupied West Bank districts of Hebron and Bethlehem on Sunday, detaining at least four young Palestinians, including at least one minor.

Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad said Israeli forces raided the town of Beit Ummar north of Hebron and detained 14-year-old Qusay Muhammad Kamil Abu Maria.

Awwad said that large numbers of Israeli troops stormed the town and ransacked several homes. At the home of Abd al-Hamid Zaaqiq, Israeli soldiers rounded up all of the family members in one room as they inspected the house, confiscating photos of Omar Zaaqiq, who was killed by Israeli forces in 2015, Awwad said.

In the Bethlehem district, Israeli forces detained three young men identified by locals as Bassam Masad from Beit Sahour, and Ikrima Odeh al-Umour and Mahmoud Yousif al-Umour from Tuqu east of Bethlehem.

The Palestinian Prisoner's Society confirmed in the identities of all four detainees in a statement released later on Sunday.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that that just three Palestinians had been detained in the raids, confirming one in Beit Ummar and two Tuqu.

Israeli forces carry out detention raids across the occupied territory on a near-daily basis, with the UN recording an average of 95 weekly raids in the West Bank in 2016, and 100 weekly raids on average thus far in 2017.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, a total of 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of January, including 300 minors. The group estimates some 40 percent of the male Palestinian population has been incarcerated by Israeli at some point in their lives.

Palestinians in Beit Ummar have been particularly affected by mass incarceration, as the village has suffered for decades from restrictions of residents' movement due in part to the village being encircled by illegal Israeli settlements.

Since the beginning of 2017, Israeli forces have detained at least 20 Palestinians in Beit Ummar, including at least one other minor.

Four former prisoners were detained in Beit Ummar in a predawn raid on Feb.1. Family members of one of the detainees, 50-year-old Ahmad Abu Maria, said that Israeli soldiers broke into the home at 3 a.m. and destroyed everything inside the house, and also seized 14,500 shekels (approximately $3,865).

Meanwhile, since Israeli forces shot and killed 17-year-old Qusay Hassan al-Umour in Tuqu, residents have reported a continued heightened military presence in the village.

Israeli forces raided the village last Wednesday, took over a Palestinian home, and turned it into a military post. Since al-Umour was shot dead on Jan. 16, Israeli forces have detained at least five Palestinians in Tuqu.
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