Five Palestinians aged 15 to 17 were arrested Sunday by the Palestinian police on suspicion of posing as Israel Defense Forces and raiding houses in the West Bank village of Marah Rabah, south of Bethlehem.
The police reported that the five youths did not live in the village, but were seized after raising the suspicions of local residents as they entered houses dressed in IDF uniform.
According to the village residents, the five had even tried to declare a curfew on one of the streets before entering a house and searching it. The owner of one of the houses called for help, and managed to hold onto the youths until the Palestinian police arrived.
The suspects were taken in for investigation by the Palestinian Authority's General Intelligence Service.
Although the circumstances of the incident are unclear, a PA security source believes the youths are members of a street gang which sought to rob houses. According to the source, when IDF soldiers raid houses they usually gather all family members in one room and roam freely in the other parts of the house.
The head of the Bethlehem police station defined the incident as severe and called it "an evil idea." He said that "a major crime" has been prevented thanks to the residents' cooperation.
The official noted that the gang had caused great amount of panic in the village, but said that the Palestinian police would not allow street gangs to harm the residents' safety.