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Israeli Forces Detain Senior Hamas Government Officials

Israeli forces have taken into custody several Palestinian ministers and lawmakers of the Hamas-led government in the West Bank.

Israeli officials say the Hamas members were taken in Ramallah early today (Thursday) to determine if they are involved in terrorist activities.

Israeli media say they might be swapped for an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Palestinian militants.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military is widening its offensive in the Gaza Strip to rescue the soldier. An Israeli airstrike today (Thursday) hit a car carrying a senior Islamic Jihad member in Gaza City. Witnesses say he escaped.

Israel also launched new air strikes in the southern Gaza Strip (against an alleged weapons factory in the town of Khan Younis).

After the strikes, Palestinian militants set off explosives, blowing a hole in the Gaza - Egypt border fence. Egypt deployed security forces along the gap to prevent Palestinians from illegally entering the country.