Israel carries out arrest campaign in overnight raids on Palestinian-majority cities

Israeli Border Police officers patrol past shops in the old city of Jerusalem, as Israel raises its security measures (AFP)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  March 29, 2022

Israeli forces arrested 15 Palestinian citizens in overnight raids allegedly connected to a shooting attack that killed two Israeli border police officers on Sunday.

The operation, supported by Israel’s security service the Shin Bet, targeted the Wadi Ara area, in Umm al-Fahm, the hometown of the attackers, as well as Nazareth, Sakhnin, Al-Tayba, Zelfa, and other nearby villages in Israel’s central and northern areas. 

Two Palestinian citizens of Israel opened fire in the central Israeli city of Hadera on Sunday night, in an attack that also wounded 10 people, before the pair were fatally shot by undercover police. 

The Islamic State group claimed the attack, without citing any evidence.

Almost immediately after the assault, police and special forces raided Umm al-Fahm, set up roadblocks on Israel’s central roads, and raised its threat level to the highest possible. 

On Monday, police said they had called in six reserve police units, with the possibility of more being called into active duty. 

The Israeli army also said it was sending reinforcements along the 1967 borders separating Israel from the occupied West Bank. 

Meanwhile, an armed militia announced that it has set up squads across the area to defend it from future attacks.

The Palestinians detained on Tuesday were arrested on suspicion of various security offences, including possession of weapons and affiliation with IS, the police said.

The police said in a statement that it will intensify its arrest campaign, which is expected to continue over the next few days, and will target Palestinian citizens of Israel who were previously suspected or accused of supporting or belonging to IS.

Since early Monday, police have carried out search operations across Palestinian-majority towns in Israel, including the Negev, known as Naqab for Palestinians, and Galilee regions. The raids included home searches and field interrogations.

Police arrested five people from Umm al-Fahm, including a brother of one of the assailants, overnight on Monday.

The swift arrival of police units, coupled with growing incitement in the media, has left Palestinians fearful and anxious about the aftermath of the attack.

Palestinian citizens in Umm al-Fahm and across Israel, were quick to condemn Sunday’s shooting, as fears of Israeli reprisals against them rose, both from the state and armed Jewish militia. 

“This attack does not represent the people of the city, nor our society, nor our values that call for a decent and tolerant life, a society that seeks security and peace,” the Umm al-Fahm municipality said in a brief statement released on Sunday.