Israel arrests dozens of Palestinian students over alleged Hamas links
The Israeli army said on Thursday that it had arrested between 20 and 30 Palestinian students in the occupied West Bank who it claimed were "terror operatives" of the Islamist group Hamas.
Palestinian sources told AFP that dozens of students from Birzeit University were arrested as they were returning by bus from the village of Turmus Ayya where earlier this month Israeli troops demolished 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 organisation of Hamas activities in Judea and Samaria," using an Israeli term for the West Bank.
Hamas runs the Gaza Strip and fought an 11-day conflict with Israel in May.
An Israeli army spokesperson told AFP Thursday that the number of students held was between 20 and 30, and that the internal security organisation Shin Bet had taken over the investigation.
Birzeit University condemned the arrests as "a violation of all international laws and norms that guarantee students' right to movement" and expressed concern over the fate of the students.
"The university calls on the international community to intervene immediately to secure their release," the statement said.
Palestinian sources, who requested anonymity, said some of the students were expected to be released soon, but others faced protracted detention.