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Israel arrests 20 Hamas members in West Bank

Israeli forces arrested 20 members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, including three lawmakers, in a raid early Monday in the West Bank, Hamas officials said.

The Israeli military confirmed arrests were made but would not elaborate further.

According to several Hamas officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, the arrests took place in the early morning all across the territory. One of those arrested was in charge of reconciliation talks between Hamas and its rival, the secular Fatah, according to the Hamas officials.

Palestinians have been deeply divided since Hamas overran Gaza in 2007, ousting forces from the Fatah party, led by the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in bloody street battles. Abbas has since ruled only in parts of the West Bank, and Hamas has held sway in Gaza.

Multiple attempts to reach a long-elusive reconciliation agreement between the two Palestinian groups have not succeeded so far. And while efforts to end the split have failed, the two sides have tried to make a show of unity since Hamas' fierce battle with Israel in November and Fatah's subsequent recognition bid at the United Nations.

Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization because it has carried out scores of deadly attacks, including suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

Hamas lawmakers have been subject to arrests by Israel since the group defeated Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election.

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