When is a mass arrest of Palestinians not news in the UK? When they’re arrested by the PA

In the summer of 2014, the Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph and Times of London all reported on the large number of arrests of Hamas members in the West Bank following the abduction of three Israeli teens, in an Israeli operation code-named Brother’s Keeper.

Peter Beaumont  (Israeli forces tighten grip on West Bank in search for three abducted teenagers, June 15) reported  thusly:

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has accused the Islamic militant group Hamas of being behind the kidnapping of three teenagers – including a US citizen – who went missing nearly three days ago, as Israeli troops tightened their grip on the southern West Bank and rounded up scores of Palestinians.

Amid rapidly rising tensions in the West Bank, the Israeli military flooded the Hebron area with several thousand additional troops, deployed extra anti-rocket units in two southern cities and called up several hundred reservists.

The kidnapping and the scale of the operation to recover the boys and root out those responsible, is one of the most serious security incidents in recent memory.

The search has been accompanied by widespread arrests – about 80 Palestinians were seized on Sunday, including dozens of members of Hamas swept up in overnight raids. Palestinian officials put the number of people taken into custody by Israeli authorities so far at more than 100, including seven Hamas members of the newly forged Palestinian parliament and several prisoners recently released by Israel.

The Independent’s Ben Lynfield (Kidnapped Israeli teenagers: Arrests, anger and a deadly raid in the heart of Ramallah, June 22) noted the following:

The Israeli army carried out a deadly raid on Sunday in the heart of Ramallah, the West Bank seat of the Palestinian self-rule authority, escalating a campaign launched to find three missing Israeli youths that is placing the moderate Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, in an increasingly difficult position.

The campaign, in which more than 330 Palestinians have been arrested over 10 days, began after the three Israeli teenagers, Gil-Ad Shaer,16, Naftali Fraenkel,16 and Eyal Yifrach, 19, went missing near a West Bank settlement with Israel stating that they had been abducted by the militant Hamas movement.

But leading Israeli human-rights groups voiced concerns that the military is carrying out “collective punishment” of the Palestinian civilian population and said many of the army operations had no apparent connection to the kidnappings.

The Telegraph also reported on the crackdown (30 new arrests as Israel presses West Bank hunt for hostage teens, June 20):

Israeli troops have arrested some 30 Palestinians in the West Bank as they ramped up a search for three teenagers believed kidnapped by Hamas.

The arrests overnight raised the number of Palestinians detained since the youths went missing a week ago to 280, around three-quarters of them members of the Islamist Hamas movement, a statement said.

Times of London similarly informed readers of the manhunt in the West Bank (Hamas crackdown as Israel retaliates over teens’ kidnap, June 19th).

Israel intensified its clampdown in the West Bank yesterday, arresting another 65 people as part of a hunt for three teenagers kidnapped last week.

As the search entered its sixth day, Israeli security forces locked down large parts of the West Bank, and detained dozens of alleged members of Hamas, the Palestinian faction that it blames for the abductions.

Since the searches began early last Friday, troops have arrested 240 Palestinians, searched more than 800 locations and raided ten Hamas-run institutions, the army said.    

Yet, all four publications have thus far failed to report on a mass roundup of Hamas members in the West Bank launched by Palestinian Authority security forces since Thursday. The arrests have been reported by other major news sites, including the The New York Times.

According to Times of Israel journalist Avi Issacharoff, PA forces “have arrested 240 Palestinians, searched more than 800 locations and raided ten Hamas-run institutions”.  Those arrested by the PA have included Muslim clerics, former prisoners and members of Hamas’s student body at al-Najah National University in Nablus.  

Associated Press reported that the latest PA roundup of suspected Hamas members late Thursday night represented “the biggest mass arrest in one night since 2007″.

The arrests have reportedly been motivated by recent terror attacks in the West Bank, as well as the increasing realization by PA President Mahmoud Abbas that the large Hamas infrastructure in Nablus and other cities threatens his rule.

Additionally, “human rights” groups who were quick to label the Israeli operation in the West Bank last year a form of “collective punishment” have thus far been silent on the large-scale security operation by the PA.  

A joint press release by Israeli, Palestinian and international NGO’s on June 22, 2014, called on the IDF to “refrain from collectively punishing the civilian Palestinian population”, a military operation it claimed was causing “disproportionate harm to the basic rights of Palestinians”.

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