JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli forces seized 55 suspected Palestinian militants in the West Bank on Thursday, the army said, citing a need to quell the occupied territory after a truce ended eight days of fighting in the Gaza Strip.
The detainees were from various armed Palestinian factions and included “senior operatives,” the army said in a statement, adding that it would “continue to maintain order ... and prevent the infiltration of terrorists into Israeli communities.”
The West Bank is under the sway of U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but many of its residents are sympathetic with his Islamist Hamas rivals who govern Gaza and reject any permanent peace with the Jewish state.
Israel launched an air offensive against Hamas and other Gaza factions on November 14 with the declared aim of stopping their cross-border rocket attacks. The sides entered an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on Wednesday night.
During the clashes, two Palestinians were shot dead during anti-Israel demonstrations in the West Bank that turned into confrontations with the army. A Tel Aviv bus bomb that wounded 15 people on Wednesday raised the possibility that Palestinians had come in from the nearby West Bank to carry out the attack.
Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Lisa Shumaker