Israel has detained a third of the Palestinian cabinet and more than twenty members of parliament from Hamas. The ruling Palestinian party has called the action a declaration of war. The arrests in the West Bank came during a major offensive in Gaza aimed at finding a kidnapped soldier.
Israel says the Palestinian officials being held are not being used as bargaining chips but that they are people with terrorist records. Compounding the crisis, the body of a teenage Jewish settler seized by militants was found near Ramallah. They had threatened to kill him unless the Gaza operation stopped.
A spokesman for the Palestinian president said about the incursion: “These acts are not going to help safeguard the life of the abducted soldier. We hope the Israelis will show restraint so that President Abbas can continue to look for a political solution to this situation.”
Naturally, the Israeli government does not see it that way. A spokesman said: “We have seen over the last few weeks a clear escalation in Hamas terrorist activities against Israelis. We have had kidnappings, we have had rocket launches, we have had attacks against Israeli positions.”