Jerusalem: The Israeli military is exploring ways to end its long-established practice of arresting Palestinian suspects during night raids across the West Bank, a media report here said on Tuesday.

Israeli troops train at an undisclosed location. Pic: AFP

The move reflects Israel's growing sensitivity to international criticism of its operations in the Palestinian territories.

The military will begin to issue written summons instead of sending troops to apprehend suspects of security-related offences, Xinhua quoted Lt.-Col. Maurice Hirsch, the Israeli army's chief prosecutor in the West Bank, as telling the Jerusalem Post.

The military has long maintained that arresting suspects at night helps avert violent clashes in Palestinian towns and villages. But the practice has long come under fire from foreign governments and international rights groups who cite ill-treatment of minors and alleged torture and abuse.

"We have done daytime arrests. They resulted in wide-scale protests, gun fights and greater danger to both Palestinians and Israeli security forces," Hirsch said, adding, "If we bring a suspect to interrogation without the need for an arrest operation...that is best."

The pilot programme for the written summons plan comes at a time when Israel is facing growing international condemnation. The report cited a scathing Unicef report issued late last year that criticised Israel's treatment of Palestinian minors, an unknown number of whom are detained in night-time operations.

Once the pilot programme is implemented, Palestinians summoned by injunctions would be expected to turn up for questioning by their own volition, rather than by being handcuffed and pulled out of their homes.