Israel detains 100 women in murder investigation

AWARTA, West Bank Thu Apr 7, 2011 12:09pm EDT

Mourners cry during the funeral of Ehud Fogel, 36, his wife Ruth, 35, and their children 11-year-old Yoav, 4-year-old Elad, and 3-month-old Hadas in Jerusalem, March 13, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Mourners cry during the funeral of Ehud Fogel, 36, his wife Ruth, 35, and their children 11-year-old Yoav, 4-year-old Elad, and 3-month-old Hadas in Jerusalem, March 13, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

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AWARTA, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli troops briefly detained about 100 women in the West Bank early on Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation into the murder last month of a young Jewish settler family, locals said.

The women, many of them seized with their husbands, were released after police took their fingerprints and DNA samples.

The Fogel family, including two young children and a baby, were knifed to death in their beds on March 11 in the Itamar settlement which is near the Palestinian village of Awarta.

Israeli officials blamed Palestinians for the murders. No Palestinian group had claimed responsibility and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has described the killing as inhumane.

Israeli investigators have repeatedly descended on Awarta since the killing and the head of the village council, Qais Awwad, said troops entered houses overnight, taking away women aged between 20 to 80 in armored trucks to a detention center.

Sumayyah Shurrab, 30, said she had to take her 11-month old child with her. After fingerprint and DNA checks she was taken back to Awarta.

"They told me they wanted to compare them with finger prints they found in the settlement," she said.

"This was a very inhuman act," she added.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was aware of reports of the arrests but could not comment because of censorship surrounding the case.

Awwad said that since the killing of the Fogel family, troops have arrested all the young males of the 6,000-strong community. He said some 30 people were still in jail. Israel has not given any details of the investigation.

Half a million Jewish settlers live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which is also home to 2.5 million Palestinians. Palestinians want the lands, along with Gaza Strip for a state of their own.

(Writing by Mohammed Assadi; editing by Crispian Balmer)

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