Palestinian speaker arrested as Israel hunts three missing teens

A file picture taken on Jan 19, 2012, shows then Hamas speaker of the Palestinian parliament Aziz Dweik talking to reporters after he was released from Israeli prison, at the Beit Sira roadblock in the West Bank. Israeli troops arrested Palestin
A file picture taken on Jan 19, 2012, shows then Hamas speaker of the Palestinian parliament Aziz Dweik talking to reporters after he was released from Israeli prison, at the Beit Sira roadblock in the West Bank. Israeli troops arrested Palestinian parliament speaker and Hamas member Aziz Dweik overnight during a wave of arrests linked to a massive manhunt for three kidnapped teenagers, the military said on Monday. -- PHOTO: AFP

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli troops arrested Palestinian parliament speaker and Hamas member Aziz Dweik overnight during a wave of arrests linked to a massive manhunt for three kidnapped teenagers, the military said on Monday.

In a statement, the army said it had arrested more than 40 suspects in the West Bank, "including Hamas leadership and operatives", with a military spokesman confirming to AFP that the speaker was among them.

The army says more than 150 Palestinians have been arrested in the search for the three youngsters who were snatched from the Gush Etzion settlement bloc in the southern West Bank on Thursday night, with Israel pointing the finger at Hamas.

So far, there has been no formal claim of responsibility.

Ms Amani Sarahna, spokesman for the Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoners Club, told AFP 60 people were detained overnight but said the wave of arrests was "still ongoing" in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

A statement from Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, the army's official spokesman, said: "IDF efforts are focused on enabling operational capabilities, enhancing intelligence and influencing those that participated, are involved or have knowledge of the whereabouts of Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Ifrah.

"We are determined to bring them home and bring the perpetrators of their abduction to justice."