JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel says it arrested dozens of Palestinian students in the occupied West Bank who are linked to the Hamas militant group.
The military said late Wednesday that those arrested belong to a Hamas student group at Birzeit University and were “directly involved in terror activities, including money transfers, incitement and the organization of Hamas activities.” The statement provided no evidence to back up the claims.
Hamas, which rules Gaza, has an armed wing as well as a political organization, charities and student groups. Israel and Western countries consider Hamas a terrorist group because it has carried out scores of deadly attacks against Israelis over the years.
Hamas condemned the arrest of the students, who it says were paying a solidarity visit to the demolished home of a Palestinian who allegedly killed an Israeli and wounded two others in a drive-by shooting in May. He was arrested days after the attack.
The man’s estranged wife, who said she knew nothing about the attack, and their three youngest children were living in the home before it was demolished earlier this month. The case drew attention to Israel’s policy of punitive demolitions, which Israel says are needed to deter attacks but which human rights groups say amounts to collective punishment.
The Prisoners Club, an organization representing the thousands of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, said 45 students were detained Wednesday but that 12 were later released. It condemned the arrests, saying that the detention of students infringes on their right to pursue an education.