x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Israeli troops arrest 100 West Bank women in hunt for settler family's killers

Storming of Awarta village part of massive manhunt in aftermath of stabbing of a Jewish couple and their three young children, one of them a baby, as they slept in their beds.

NABLUS // Israeli troops stormed Awarta village in the West Bank yesterday, arresting more than 100 women as they hunted the for killers of an Israeli family, officials said.

The military also used bulldozers to destroy Palestinian houses in a 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 and imposed a curfew, after which they began rounding up the women, the local council head, Tayis Awwad told AFP.

They carried out house-to-house searches through the night, he said. Palestinian security sources confirmed the information.

The women, some elderly, were placed in a camp where the military took their fingerprints and DNA samples before most of them were released, said the Palestinian sources.

An Israeli military spokesman said a blackout had been placed on information about its operations there. The army has been conducting frequent raids on the village for the past four weeks, arresting villagers after last month's murders of a family living in the nearby settlement of Itamar.

But yesterday's raid marked the first time they had arrested any women, Mr Awwad said.

Since March 11, the village, which lies just south of Nablus, has been the centre of a massive manhunt in the aftermath of the stabbing of a Jewish couple and their three young children, one of them a baby, as they slept in their beds in Itamar.

After the murders, troops entered Awarta and imposed a curfew for five consecutive days, conducting house-to-house searches for the killers, who are believed to be Palestinian.

Last week, they entered the village again and imposed a curfew, but so far no one has been charged. Hassan Awad, Awarta's deputy mayor, said last week that 80 per cent of the houses had been raided and 300 men and boys arrested. About 40 of them were in jail at the time.