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Israel detains dozens in West Bank 'Hamas manhunt'

Israeli forces arrested 40 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank overnight. [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 December, 2018

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Israeli forces raided the West Bank and detained dozens of Hamas members as a manhunt continues for the perpetrator of a deadly attack that killed two Israeli soldiers.

Israeli forces arrested 40 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank overnight during a manhunt for the perpetrator of a deadly attack, the army said on Friday.

The West Bank, which Israel has occupied for more than 50 years, saw the third Palestinian shooting in two months on Thursday, with an attacker killing two Israeli soldiers near a Jewish settlement before fleeing the scene. 

The army announced reinforcements after the attack and carried out raids in the nearby city of Ramallah, where Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is based, and other localities.

Hebrew posters have been pasted in the West Bank over the past week inciting the killing of Abbas.

"Forces apprehended 40 suspects wanted for their involvement in terror activities, popular terror and violent riots targeting civilians and security forces," an army statement said.

It alleged 37 of them were known to be members of Hamas, who claimed two recent gun attacks, although not Thursday's.

The army did not announce any arrests in relations to Thursday's attack.

24 hours of deadly violence

Abbas himself condemned the anti-Israeli attacks but highlighted Israeli raids as a potential cause of anger.

"The climate created by the policy of repeated intrusions into the cities, the provocations against the sovereignty of the president and the lack of a horizon for peace are what led to this unacceptable series of violence that we condemn and reject," he said.

Later on Friday, an Israeli soldier was injured when a Palestinian hit him over the head with a rock near the Beit El settlement.

Four Palestinians and two Israelis have been killed since Wednesday in the bloodiest 24 hours to hit the West Bank and Jerusalem in months.

Two militants allegedly responsible for West Bank attacks that claimed the lives of three Israelis, including a baby, were killed early on Thursday.

Another Palestinian was shot dead in Jerusalem after allegedly stabbing Israeli border policemen.

Later that day, Israeli forces shot dead a 58-year-old Palestinian after accusing him of attempting to ram a group of soldiers.

Israeli defence officials later said they doubted it was an attempted attack.

Netanyahu announces new settler homes

Ultra-nationalist Israeli settlers blockaded roads in the occupied West Bank and hurled stones at Palestinian cars following the shooting attacks, while hundreds demanded Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's resignation.

In a bid placate the settler movement, a key part of the Israeli government's fragile political coalition, Netanyahu vowed to legalise "thousands" of settlement homes built without even Israeli permits.

All settlements are considered illegal under international law and are seen as a major obstacle to peace, but Israel draws a distinction between those it sanctions and those constructed without permission.

"They think they can uproot us from our land, they will not succeed," Netanyahu said in a statement.

He additionally said they would seek to destroy the homes of Palestinian attackers within 48 hours.

Around 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, which are considered illegal by the international community.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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