Photo: AP
Wanted Palestinians detained (Archive photo)
Photo: AP
Photo: AP
Rafah (Archive photo)
Photo: AP
IDF enters Gaza, nabs 2 Hamas members
For first time since disengagement, IDF soldiers detain two wanted Palestinians in Gaza Strip; Palestinians report troops beat detainees' father, who was in need of medical treatment. Meanwhile, Qassam rocket lands in open area in Sderot
Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces entered the Gaza Strip Saturday morning and arrested two armed Hamas members after besieging a house in the southern Strip, Palestinian eyewitnesses reported.


Meanwhile, a Qassam rocket landed in an open area in Sderot. The Red Dawn alert system was activated, and there were no reports of injuries or damage in the incident.


Palestinian sources reported that a special IDF force was operating south of the Sufa crossing, east of Rafah. The Palestinians reported that the force advanced hundreds of meters into the Palestinian Authority territory.


According to the report, the soldiers operating in the area early Saturday arrested two brothers, Mustafa and Osama Muammar, during the operation. Eyewitnesses claimed that the troops also beat the detainees' father, Ali Muammar, who was in need of medical treatment at the city's European Hospital.


Such an operation in the Gaza Strip is complicated and very risky for the forces. It is still unclear what activities the defense establishment ascribes to the two wanted suspects, but they apparently hold important information. Therefore, the IDF chose not to hurt them in an air strike but capture them alive.  


Army officials confirmed the operation, saying that the two Hamas activists were involved in planning a terror attack in the immediate future.


One of the brothers arrested is a student at the Islamic University affiliated with Hamas, Osama recently returned from Sudan.


In recent days, the IDF boosted its operation in the Palestinian Authority territories in Gaza, but apart from encountering an Islamic Jihad cell about three weeks ago in the Beit Lahiya area, the soldiers' operation focused in recent days on opening routes near the border fence and detonating explosive devices placed in the area in a controlled manner.


West Bank: Thousands detained per year


Since the IDF's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and after the disengagement plan was completed, the army focused on operations in the Strip from a distance, firing artillery shells and using Israel Air Force strikes against terror cells, including Qassam rocket launchers.


However, as time passed and the PA failed to restrain terror activities against Israel, the defense establishment boosted its operations: IDF soldiers began entering the Gaza Strip for operations aimed at thwarting attempts to place explosive devices in order to hit vehicles.


Hamas' rise to power, which led to an almost complete severance between IDF commanders and their Palestinian counterparts, only increased the army's freedom of action in terms of this operation. In terms of Qassam cells, the IDF began operating in the Palestinian territory using special forces that ambushed the cells.


About a month ago, a naval commando force managed to hit a group of three Islamic Jihad members, who arrived at the area designated for launching Qassam rockets at Israel.


Detentions of wanted Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were not common also in the time when IDF forces were deployed inside the Strip, as the defense establishment did not control the Palestinians cities. In the West Bank, however, detention operations are conducted on a daily basis and thousands of suspects are detained per year.


The IDF views the detention of wanted Palestinians as an advantage, as they can shed light on terror activities in the past and in the future.


Hanan Greenberg and Tova Dadon contributed to the report


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