Israel says 15 Hamas operatives arrested in West Bank raid

Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, speaks during a press conference in Gaza City on November 27. The Islamist group Hamas is vowing to expand its militant activities in the West Bank in response to demands for its disarmament in Gaza. (Adel Hana, AP, file)
Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, speaks during a press conference in Gaza City on November 27. The Islamist group Hamas is vowing to expand its militant activities in the West Bank in response to demands for its disarmament in Gaza. (Adel Hana, AP, file)

The Israeli military says it has arrested 15 Hamas operatives in an overnight West Bank raid.

The military says on Sunday those captured are suspected of collaborating with a well-known Hamas operative from Gaza to spread its activities to the West Bank, which is governed by the rival Fatah movement.

The raid comes after Hamas accused Israel of assassinating one of its men in Malaysia and amid a wave of mass protests along the Gaza border that have turned violent.

In three weeks of protests, Israeli troops have killed 32 Palestinians and wounded some 1 600.

Hamas says the protests are against a decade-long blockade of the isolated strip. Israel says it is defending its sovereign border and only targeting instigators. It says Hamas uses the protests as cover for attacks.

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