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For the 7th Consecutive Day, Israeli Forces Continue Attacks on the West Bank; 245 Palestinian Civilians Arrested, Including Speaker and 6 Members of PLC

 Ref: 65/2014

 

For the seventh consecutive day,
Israeli forces have continued to practice a collective punishment policy against
Palestinian civilians in the West Bank in violation of international
humanitarian and human rights laws. Following
their declaration of the disappearance of 3 Israeli settlers in Hebron in the
south of the West Bank since Thursday evening, 12 June 2014, Israeli forces
carried out a large-scale military campaign in Palestinian communities in the
West Bank and night raids of houses using tracker dogs and maltreating the
house residents by expelling them outside their houses or detaining them in single
rooms.  Moreover, Israeli forces turned
many houses into military sites and deliberately damaged those houses. The
campaign has mainly targeted Hebron, but it has extended to all others areas in
the West Bank. 
The
raids targeted charities, health centers, media offices, schools, universities,
and currency exchange bureaus.  Israeli
forces confiscated their contents as well as dozens of surveillance cameras.
They also intensified their presence at the temporary and permanent military
checkpoints across the West Bank and imposed severe restrictions on Palestinian
civilians’ movement. Israeli forces also imposed a tightened closure on Hebron
and its surroundings.

 

According to investigations conducted by
the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Israeli forces conducted at
least 180 incursions throughout the West Bank and arrested 245 Palestinians,
including the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Dr Aziz
Duweik, and 6 of its members: Abul Rahaman Zidan, Hassan Yusif; Dr Ibrahim Abu
Salem; Muhammad Totah, Azzam Salhab; and Dr Ayman Daraghmah; and two ministers
of the 10th Palestinian government: Wasfi Qabha, former Minster of Priosners’
Affairs;  and Khaled Abu Arafah, former Minister
of Jerusalem Affairs. The arrests included dozens of Palestinian ex-prisoners
who were released in Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal.

 

During the campaign, Israeli forces
raided several charities and health centers, confiscated their contents, and
closed many of them. On 16 June 2014, Israeli forces raided the office of
al-Baraa Society for Muslim Girls and Islamic Relief for Orphans in Jenin. On
19 June 2014, they raided the Orphans Society in Beit Amr village and the
Islamic Philanthropist Society in Bani Naim village in Hebron. Israeli forces
destroyed the furniture of the aforementioned offices and confiscated their
computers.

 

On 17 June 2014, Israeli forces raided
al-Sadaqa health center in Bethlehem after breaking all its doors. They messed
with its contents, and confiscated its computers and medical files.

 

In the context of raiding media
offices, on 18 June 2014, Israeli forces raided Trans Media Company’s office in
al-Bireh and Hebron and confiscated all its contents, including computers, cameras
and broadcasting devices. The aforementioned company provides media,
photography and broadcasting services for over 24 local and international
satellite channels. The private media company’s losses were estimated at more
than US$ 800 thousand.

 

On Thursday morning, 19 June 2014,
Israeli forces raided the campus of Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah, and
the office of the Islamic Bloc (the Hamas student wing) and confiscated its
contents.

 

It should be noted that Israeli forces have
prevented 13 thousand Palestinian workers from Hebron who have work permits from
entering Israel. They have also prevented all civilians under 50 from leaving
the county and prevented Hebron residents from leaving the city by establishing
dozens of checkpoints and closing main roads with cement blocks.

 

PCHR stresses that the measures taken
by the Israeli forces in the oPt are part of the collective punishment policy
and reprisals against Palestinian civilians in violation of Article 33 of the
1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to Protection of Civilians in Times of
War which provides that: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he
or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all
measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.” PCHR calls upon the
international community to take immediate and effective actions and reiterates
its call for the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention
to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; to respect and to ensure respect
for the Convention in all circumstances. PCHR also calls upon the international
community to fulfill their obligation under Article 146 to prosecute persons
alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  These
grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention
and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions.