Israeli soldiers arrested 17 Palestinian residents in the West Bank cities of Hebron and Nablus and Tulkarem, after invading the three areas and conducting military searches of homes.

A local source in Hebron reported that soldiers arrested eleven members of Hamas after invading the city and several surrounding areas.

Soldiers claimed that the arrested residents are wanted by the Israeli security.

In Aseera Al Shimaliyya village, north of the West Bank city of Nablus, soldiers arrested five residents, who are said to be wanted by the Israeli security.

Also, soldiers claimed uncovering explosives with the five residents. “Soldiers detonated the explosive in a controlled explosion”, the source stated.

The five residents are members of Fateh movement and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In Atteel village, north of Tulkarem, soldiers arrested one resident after breaking into his home and searching it.

An Israeli source reported that the Israeli Security Services, Shabak, in cooperation with Sharon’s office prepared lists of Hamas members to be arrested before the January 2006 Legislative Elections, in an attempt to weaken Hamas, and push it to transform into a political party.

In a separate incident, Palestinian policemen arrested earlier on Saturday, three Israelis after entering the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia.

The policemen handed the three Israelis to Israeli soldiers stationed at a military checkpoint, near Qalqilia. The police are considering filing charges against the three Israelis who claimed that they were chasing a Palestinian resident who stole their car.