Israeli troops in a night raid in the West Bank (archive image)

In the early hours of Friday morning, Israeli forces invaded several villages in the northern part of the West Bank and abducted six Palestinians who were asleep in their homes – all of whom were either former prisoners or the siblings of former prisoners.

Following the high-profile escape of six Palestinian prisoners earlier this week, Israeli troops have cracked down on Palestinian prisoners and their families.

In the town of Araba, in the Jenin district in the northern West Bank, the soldiers invaded and abducted three siblings of the released prisoner Mahmoud Ardah, his sister Basima and his two brothers Raed and Mohammad.

This brings the total of Mahmoud’s Ardah who are now imprisoned by Israel to five. Palestinian analysts say that this is clearly an attempt by the Israeli occupying authorities to intimidate and collectively punish Ardah’s family members, all of whom worked and campaigned for his release following an extended hunger strike.

Israeli forces also stormed the village of Bir Al-Basha, south of Jenin, and abducted Yousef Gwadra, brother of Ya`qub Gwadra, one of the six Palestinian prisoners who managed to escape from Gilboa Prison earlier this week.

They also abducted Raafat Gwadra, who had just recently been released from Israeli prison.

Abducting the siblings of prisoners and former prisoners with no charges is considered collective punishment under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and is considered a war crime. Israeli troops frequently carry out such abductions, but have never been charged for these actions under the International Criminal Court.