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Israel re-arrests 50 Palestinians freed in 2011 prisoner swap

Israeli occupation forces arrested 65 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank last night, 50 of whom were prisoners released in Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit's prisoners swap held between Hamas and Israel in 2011.

Head of Prisoners' Centre for Studies Fuad Al-Kuffash said two Palestinian members of parliament were among those arrested. He added that Israeli forces told the families of the prisoners that they would expel them to the Gaza Strip.

Since last Thursday, when three Israeli settlers reportedly went missing, the Israeli occupation forces have been carrying out a wide house-to-house search in Hebron. They have arrested 240 Palestinians, at least 180 of whom are members of Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the operation. "The activities carried out overnight, in which Hamas terrorists were arrested, including those who were released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal, is an element with an important message that is part of a series of many actions that will continue," he said.

Netanyahu said that the "goal is to retrieve the kidnapped teens and harm the Hamas movement in Judea and Samaria."

Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier who was positioned in a military base in his tank on the Gaza borders in 2006. Israel released 1,027 Palestinians as part of prisoners' swap with Hamas in 2011.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that the Israeli government is considering expelling top Hamas officials from the West Bank to Gaza.

According to the Israeli military commander in the West Bank Major General Nitzan Alon, "The battle against Hamas is complex and ongoing; it didn't begin today and won't end soon." He vowed the movement would emerge from the current clash "weakened operationally and strategically".

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