Dozens of Palestinian students have been arrested in the occupied West Bank, accused of being “terror operatives” of Hamas, the Israeli army said on Thursday.
Students from Birzeit University were arrested as they were returning by bus from the village of Turmus Ayya where earlier this month Israeli troops destroyed the family home of a Palestinian American awaiting trial on charges of shooting a Jewish student in the West Bank earlier this year.
An Israeli army statement said: “Some of the apprehended terror operatives were directly involved in terror activities, including money transfers, incitement and the organization of Hamas activities” in the West Bank.
A statement late on Wednesday announcing the arrests said “dozens of terror operatives” belonging to “a student cell” at Birzeit University had been detained in a joint operation involving the army, police and the Shin Bet domestic security agency.
An army spokesperson said on Thursday that the Shin Bet had taken over the investigation.
According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, the number of students arrested on Wednesday was around 45, but 12 have since been released and the 33 still in detention were all male.
It charged that Israel had carried out “systematic arrests” of Palestinian students that had “obstructed the education of hundreds of students.”
Birzeit University in a statement voiced concern over the fate of its students, and denounced the arrests as a violence of international law.
“The university calls on the international community to intervene immediately to secure their release,” it said.