A Hamas spokesman is reportedly among more than 60 members of the militant organization that Israel arrested in overnight raids across the West Bank, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory that is increasingly feeling the impact of the fighting in Gaza.
Hassan Yousef, a leading Palestinian political figure who served as the official Hamas spokesperson in the West Bank, was arrested in his home, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, an NGO representing Palestinian detainees.
“Occupation forces arrested Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef from his home in Beitunia, as part of a wide-scale arrest campaign in the occupation (sic) West Bank,” the Palestinian Prisoners Club statement reads.
Yousef has been arrested by Israeli forces on several occasions and has spent a total of 24 years in Israeli jails on various charges of incitement, entering Jerusalem without permission and for being a Hamas member.
He has made regular appearances on international media, this week telling Canadian outlet The Globe and Mail he thought Hamas would be prepared to free the estimated 200 hostages it is holding if Israel agrees to a 24-hour ceasefire to allow aid into Gaza.
It comes amid a broader crackdown by Israeli security forces, which according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) saw more than 80 people detained, including 63 alleged “Hamas terror operatives.”
“Following wide-scale counterterrorism activity overnight in Judea and Samaria [the Jewish biblical names for the West Bank], over 80 wanted suspects were apprehended, including 63 Hamas terror operatives,” it said.
A total of 850 Palestinians have been detained in the occupied West Bank since Hamas’s brutal attack inside Israel on October 7, according the Palestinian Prisoners Club, including lawmakers, prominent figures, journalists, and former detainees who have served extended terms in Israeli jails.
“Every night, they are conducting more and more arrests. The number of Palestinian prisoners now in Israeli jails is up to 6,300,” Barghouti added. “They’re not charged, they’re not taken to court. They’re no due legal process and that’s what they call administrative detention, including no less than 200 children who are now in Israeli jails.”
The Israeli crackdown comes as the Gaza conflict has increasingly spilled over to the West Bank since Hamas launched its surprise assault, resulting in settler attacks and clashes that have left dozens of Palestinians dead.
Three Palestinians were shot dead in clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health. Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops have been reported at a number of locations.
Since Israel took control and occupied the West Bank in 1967 from Jordan following the six-day war, the territory, which residents hope will form part of a future Palestinian state, has been partially settled by Israeli civilians, often under Israeli military protection.
Most of the world considers these settlements illegal under international law, but despite this successive Israeli governments have pledged support for them.
Israel views the West Bank as “disputed territory,” and contends its settlement policy is legal.