Israel arrests Hamas politicians in the West Bank
Israeli troops arrested more than 30 senior Hamas members early on Thursday, the army said, including a Cabinet minister, legislators and mayors.
The raid was the latest strike against the Islamic militant group, in apparent retaliation for Hamas rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli border towns.
The most prominent Hamas politician to be arrested was Education Minister Nasser Shaer, considered a pragmatist in the movement. His wife, Huda, said soldiers knocked on the door of their home in the West Bank city of Nablus and took him away. Troops also seized Shaer's computer, she said.
It was the second time Shaer was arrested in a roundup of Hamas members in the past year.
Soldiers also arrested former Cabinet minister Abdel Rahman Zeidan, legislators Hamed Bitawi and Daoud Abu Ser, the mayors of the towns of Nablus, Qalqiliya and Beita Adli Yaish, Wajih Qawas and Arab Shurafa as well as the head of the main Islamic charity in Nablus, Fayad al-Arba.
Troops also searched for Ahmed Haj Ali, a Hamas legislator in Nablus, but didn't find him at home, neighbors said. The Israeli military said more than 30 senior Hamas members were arrested.
The raid came in apparent response to more than a week of Hamas rocket fire from Gaza.
Israel's defense minister has said he would not order a large-scale ground operation in Gaza at this time, but that the army had other tools in its arsenal, including air strikes against Hamas targets. More than 40 Palestinians have been killed in such missile attacks in the past week.
Last summer, Israel arrested scores of senior Hamas members in retaliation for the capture of an Israeli soldier by Hamas-allied militants.
The soldier, Cpl Gilad Shalit, has not been released.