Dozens of West Bank Palestinians arrested following massacre of family: report

09:45, March 16, 2011      

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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), assisted by Shin Bet intelligence agents, continues to carry out mass arrests of Palestinians from the West Bank village of Awarta as part of ongoing operations to track down the suspects of an attack Friday night, in which five members of a Jewish family from a nearby settlement were stabbed to death.

Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz on Tuesday quoted Palestinian media reports that "all Awarta men" were taken in for questioning.

On Saturday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting of his security chiefs, including IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, instructing them to hunt down the assailants.

"The iron fist of the IDF and the Shin Bet will quickly land on the murderers," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday. " They will be caught and made to pay for their actions."

Large Israeli military and police forces have been deployed in the West Bank in recent days to conduct house-to-house searches and arrests dictated by the Shin Bet.

The IDF's Central Command was reinforced by two additional battalions on Monday to assist the search operations and prevent clashes between settlers and Palestinians. There have been incidents of Jewish residents of local communities attacking Arab villagers and property.

Army officials said they are confident that efforts to capture the killers will soon yield results, Ha'aretz reported Tuesday. Owing to the brutal nature of Friday's attack, the IDF has decided to shoulder the bulk of these efforts resort to minimal cooperation with Palestinian security forces.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday sharply denounced the murder, telling Israel Radio that it was "a heinous, immoral and inhuman act."

"A human being is not capable of something like that. The murder of infants and children and a woman slaughtered can cause any person endowed with humanity to cry," Abbas said.

However, some Palestinian officials, including Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, voiced skepticism over reports that Palestinian militants were responsible for the murder.

Ha'aretz quoted al-Malki as saying that no Palestinian "had ever murdered an infant or civilians in such a manner, either for nationalist causes or in revenge."

Source: Xinhua
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