Israeli troops firing guns and grenades stormed Palestinian military intelligence headquarters in Ramallah on Wednesday and detained dozens of people, eventually arresting 18.
About 100 army vehicles surrounded the building in the early hours, with troops ordering people to come out before they moved in.
Palestinian security sources said that the Israelis detained more than 50 people, while the Israeli army said it had arrested 18 people after seizing most of those inside for questioning. There were no reports of injuries.
“The army arrested 18 Palestinians wanted for attacks and attempted kidnappings of Israeli soldiers and civilians,” an army spokesman said, adding that weapons and explosives were also seized.
“Basically everyone in the building was taken for questioning, just to make sure they were not involved in the activities of those wanted 18,” he said.
The rest had been released or were in the process of being let go, he said.
An Israeli security source said those arrested “were using the infrastructure of the Palestinian security services as a base to carry out their operations.”
Palestinian Authority knew this and did nothing to fight their terrorist activities,” the source said.
“The Palestinian Authority was repeatedly requested to hand the men over to Israeli authorities or at the very least remove them from the compound, but to no avail. In the light of this, the IDF (
Israel Defence Forces) was forced to take action,” the security source said.
Palestinian military intelligence director General Majed Faraj said the army had detained 55 members of his service and five other Palestinians in an adjacent building.
Faraj said soldiers had opened fire and launched grenades before entering the building, where they ransacked offices and confiscated assault rifles and pistols he said were the legal property of his force.
Palestinian security sources said some of those detained were on a list of more than 400 militants that Israel agreed not to pursue under a 2005 accord between president Mahmud Abbas and the then Israeli prime minister
The Palestinian Authority slammed the raid, which took place ahead of a meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Palestinian officials say will take place on Sunday.
“This act could have grave consequences and compromise efforts aimed at installing calm,” chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.
The Israeli army said it had also arrested 13 other wanted Palestinians elsewhere in the occupied
In January, four people were killed and more than 20 wounded during an Israeli army incursion into central Ramallah, the political capital of the West Bank, to arrest militants.
Last week one Palestinian civilian was killed and scores were wounded during an army raid in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.