[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Thursday, 24 May 2007, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Israel detains 30 Hamas officials
Palestinian Education Minister Nasser al-Shaer
Education Minister Nasser al-Shaer is among those detained
More than 30 senior officials from the Palestinian militant group Hamas have been detained by Israeli forces in overnight raids in the West Bank.

Those taken, mainly in Nablus, include the Palestinian education minister, three lawmakers and three mayors.

The Israeli military said the detentions were made because the officials "supported the firing of rockets" into Israel, AFP reported.

Meanwhile, Israel has carried out further air strikes in the Gaza Strip.

In the latest attacks they targeted two empty Hamas buildings - one in Gaza City and one in Deir al-Balah in the centre of the Gaza Strip.

Israel is making it crystal clear that it is adamant about stopping the Hamas terror directed against us both in the Gaza Strip via the continuous Qassam rocket attacks and in the West Bank where the terror cells continue to flourish
Israeli government spokesman David Baker

Palestinian medical officials say six people were injured in the attacks.

More than 30 Palestinians, at least 11 of them civilians, have died in the Israeli missile strikes.

But the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Ramallah says that they have failed to stop the intensified Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, with yet more taking place on Thursday.

One Israeli civilian has been killed and 16 wounded by rockets fired into Israeli border towns, particularly Sderot, in recent days.

Turning up the pressure

Israel says that the detentions in the West Bank are part of an effort to bring a halt to the rocket attacks.

"Israel is making it crystal clear that it is adamant about stopping the Hamas terror directed against us both in the Gaza Strip via the continuous Qassam rocket attacks and in the West Bank where the terror cells continue to flourish," Israeli government spokesman David Baker told Reuters.

A Palestinian security officer inspects rubble
An air strike destroyed a Hamas security force building in Gaza City
The most senior Hamas official among the 33 people detained in the West Bank was Palestinian Education Minister Nasser al-Shaer.

Mr Shaer's wife Huda said soldiers knocked on the door of their home in Nablus and took him away, simply telling her that they had orders to do so.

They also seized Mr Shaer's computer, she said.

Mr Shaer, who served as deputy prime minister in a previous cabinet, was also detained in an Israeli round-up of Hamas members in August last year and released the following month.

A former cabinet minister, Abdel Rahman Zeidan, two lawmakers and the mayors of the towns of Nablus, Qalqiliya and Beita were also arrested.

Similar Israeli raids against Hamas last year sparked international outcry.






FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific