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Israelis arrest 41 in Hebron after Palestinian ambush

An Israeli soldier patrols a street in Hebron on Saturday.
An Israeli soldier patrols a street in Hebron on Saturday.

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Palestinian gunmen open fire on a group of Jews in the West Bank city of Hebron. (November 15)
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CNN's Matthew Chance reports Israeli security forces have been arresting Palestinians in Hebron over the deadly attack on 12 Israelis (November 16)
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HEBRON, West Bank (CNN) -- Israeli security forces Saturday arrested 41 Palestinians in Hebron for questioning regarding Friday's deadly attack on Israelis in the divided West Bank city, the Israeli army said.

Israeli forces had reoccupied Palestinian-controlled areas of Hebron earlier in the day after Palestinian gunmen on Friday ambushed a group of Israeli security forces and Jewish settlers, killing at least 12 people and wounding 16 others, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Israeli forces had pulled out of Palestinian-controlled areas of Hebron two weeks ago.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a militant group dedicated to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel. It is classified by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization.

The security forces were escorting a group of Jews leaving a service marking the beginning of the Sabbath at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims. The forces guarding the group were not part of a military operation.

About 450 Jewish settlers live in Hebron, surrounded by 130,000 Palestinians. About 30,000 Palestinians living near Jewish enclaves are in Israeli-controlled areas and are frequently subject to curfew.

The gunmen opened fire from atop a hill in a Palestinian-controlled section of Hebron, the IDF said. The victims were in an Israeli-controlled section. Hebron was divided under a 1997 agreement.

As Israeli soldiers rushed to help the victims, the gunmen attacked again, killing several of the rescuers, including the region's highest ranking Israeli military official. Hebron Brigade commander Col. Dror Weinberg, 38, a border police officer, became the most senior IDF member to be killed in the intifada, according to Ha'aretz.

The IDF said the bodies of three of the Palestinian gunmen had been recovered from the scene. According to the IDF, the 12 Israeli fatalities include two IDF officers, two IDF soldiers, four border police troops, a border police officer and three civilians.

Abdallah Shalah, head of Islamic Jihad's operations in Syria, said Friday's attack was revenge for Israel's killing of Iyad Sawalcha last Saturday.

Sawalcha was believed responsible for orchestrating attacks that left dozens of Israelis dead and many more injured. Israeli forces said they shot and killed him after he opened fire on them while they were attempting to arrest him.

In the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, a teenage son of Jenin's Islamic Jihad leader was shot and killed by Israeli forces around 8 a.m. Saturday, according to Palestinian security sources. The Israeli army entered the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank with tanks and armored vehicles, the sources said.

The Israeli army said soldiers exchanged fire with three armed Palestinians near the camp, killing one of them.

A wounded soldier is carried from an ambulance in Jerusalem folllowing Friday's killings in Hebron.

Early Sunday, at least two Israeli helicopter gunships launched rocket attacks on two targets in the town of Khan Yunis in Palestinian-controlled Gaza, Palestinian sources told CNN. The targets were believed to be metal-working shops.

The attack happened at about 1:10 a.m. (6:10 p.m. ET), the sources said.

There was no immediate word on casualties, nor was there any immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces.

The Israeli military on Saturday launched at least four missiles at another workshop in Gaza City, reducing it to rubble, witnesses said.

The IDF confirmed it struck the workshop, saying it has been used for terrorist attacks against Israelis. The IDF alleged that weapons used in terror attacks, including mortar shells and rockets, were built there.

Israeli forces reportedly beefed up their troops in the Nablus area after Friday's attack. According to the Palestine Red Crescent, a 21-year-old woman was shot and killed inside her home Saturday morning just outside the Balata refugee camp as Israeli forces and tanks entered the camp in the West Bank, firing their weapons to clear the way.

The attack came five days after a Palestinian gunman attacked a kibbutz in northern Israel, killing five people, including young children.

Arafat and some other Palestinian leaders have publicly condemned the killing of civilians.

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