Collective Punishment Cannot Bring Justice
Imagine if three teenagers where you live disappeared, and, in response, authorities began to raid, terrorize, and arrest the population at large. That is what has happened in the last few weeks in the Palestinian Territories as Israel has conducted raids, attacks, searches, and arrests throughout the Palestinian Territories and especially in the West Bank after three teenagers from an Israeli Settlement went missing.
Some reports are describing the attacks as the largest military deployment in the West Bank since the Second Intifada. The report below, released on Sunday from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) documents many of the horrors—including killings—that the Israeli Forces have brought on the Palestinian people as a result of the disappearances. PCHR, a partner of Grassroots International, is a globally respected human rights organization. Since the report below was issued there have been additional arrests—bringing the total to as many as 500, according to some sources. Most are being held without charges as “administrative detainees” and several more Palestinians have been killed. As the report by PCHR shows, the acts by the Israeli Government punish the entire population rather than seek out and hold accountable any perpetrators that might have been involved in the disappearance of the Israeli youth. “Collective Punishment” is a violation of international law. Photo: A Palestinian youth is arrested by Israeli soldiers for throwing stones during a protest. (AFP Photo / Hazem Bader) ————– PCHR – Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Press Release June 21, 2014 Time: 11:30 GMT For the 9th Consecutive Day, Israeli Forces Continue to Attack the West Bank and Launch Airstrikes on the Gaza Strip; Palestinian Child Killed, Old Man Dies Due to Heart Attack, 6 Civilians, including a Child, Wounded and 320 Palestinian Civilians Arrested, Including PLC Speaker and 6 Members For the 9th consecutive day, Israeli forces continued to practice a policy of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), especially in the West Bank. This campaign included large-scale incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and brutal night house raids using tracker dogs and maltreating residents of houses by expelling them outside their houses, detaining them in one room or arresting them. Moreover, Israeli forces turned many of those houses into military sites and deliberately damaged their belongings. This campaign was accompanied by the use of excessive force against Palestinian civilians, who demonstrated against the Israeli forces. In addition, the raid campaign targeted charities, health centers, media offices, schools, universities and currency exchange shops. Israeli forces confiscated their contents as well as dozens of surveillance cameras. Israeli forces also launched many airstrikes on training sites for armed groups and civilian objects in the Gaza Strip. In an excessive use of force, on Friday, 20 June 2014, Israeli forces killed a 14-year-old Palestinian child in Dura, southwest of Hebron. According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 01:00 on the aforementioned day, Israeli forces backed by military vehicles and accompanied by armored personnel carriers moved into Dura, southwest of Hebron, and stationed in a number of its neighborhoods. They deployed between the houses when dozens of Palestinian boys and children gathered in several parts of the town outskirts and threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli soldiers. At approximately 04:50, an Israeli infantry force comprised of around 300 soldiers deployed between the houses in Haninah neighborhood in the south of the town. When they tried to pass through the main street to head to the area overseeing al-Ma’ajour neighborhood near the “Adoraym” military camp known as “the crazy camp”, a number of boys and children gathered to throw stones at them. In response, the Israeli soldiers fired ceaselessly for 10 minutes sound bombs, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at the stone-throwers until an Israeli soldier appeared and fired live bullets indiscriminately at the demonstrators. As a result, Mohammed Jihad Mohammed Doudin (14) was hit by a live bullet, which penetrated the right side of the chest and exited from the back. He was then taken by a civilian vehicle to the Palestine Red Crescent Society clinic in the town, but he died upon arrival. On Saturday early morning, 21 June 2014, Naji ‘Ali ‘Abed Souf (60) from Haris village, west of Saflit, died of a severe heart attack as Israeli forces refused to allow his family to take him to the hospital for treatment. At approximately 03:40, Israeli forces backed by 50 military vehicles moved into the aforementioned village. When Souf, who suffered from a weak heart muscle, was on his way to the village’s mosque for the dawn prayer, he was surprised with Israeli forces surrounding his house. As a result, he collapsed and the Israeli soldiers refused to give him first aid. Few minutes later, he died. On the same day morning, a Palestinian child was wounded in Nablus when Israeli forces moved into the city. Moreover, on 20 June 2014, 3 Palestinian civilians were wounded in Qalandia refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem, when a group of children and youngsters demonstrated against the Israeli soldiers. The wounds of two of them were described as serious, and one of them was transferred to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. In addition, on 19 June 2014, 4 Palestinian civilians were wounded in similar circumstances. According to PCHR’s investigations and the fieldworkers’ documentation, during this campaign, Israeli forces conducted more than 220 incursions into Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps in the West Bank. During the campaign, Israeli forces arrested at least 320 Palestinian civilians, including the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and 6 of its members. Also during the campaign, Israeli forces raided charities and health centers and confiscated their contents in addition to closing many of them. On 19 June 2014, Israeli forces raided al-Dar Mall in Salah al-Deen Street in the center of Jerusalem searching for an office belonging to “Jerusalem Association for Development.” They also raided the Zakat and Sadaqat Committee in Sour Baher village, southeast of the city, and handed the chairman of the committee an order signed by General “Youhanan Danino”, the Israeli Police Inspector General, to close the committee’s office for one year. Moreover, they confiscated laptops and USBs from the office. They also raided the head office of al-Namaa’ Society for Social Innovations in the building of Hamzah Mosque in Beit Safafa village, southeast of the city, and handed the workers there an order signed by the Israeli Police Inspector General to close the Society for 6 months. For the second consecutive day, at approximately 03:00 on Thursday, 19 June 2014, Israeli forces backed by military vehicles raided the building of the American Arab University in al-Zababdah village, east of Jenin, after breaking the lock of gate (3). The Israeli soldiers detained the university guard and raided the building of Student Affairs Deanship, from which they confiscated flags and papers belonging to the student blocks. Moreover, they raided al-Hawari company for currency exchange in the mall in Nablus after calling its owner, Tayel Mohammed Salim ‘Odah, and forcing him to open the door. They confiscated 4 computers and the money that was in the safe, without allowing him to know how much, as well as his 2010 Mercedes black car. In Ramallah and al-Bireh, Israeli forces raided Pal Media offices, the Head office of Islamic Relief Worldwide Charity and al-Noun Centre for Quranic studies and confiscated their contents. In the Gaza Strip, on Thursday, 19 June 2014, Israeli warplanes launched 5 airstrikes targeting Tunis paramilitary site in the east of al-Zaytoun neighborhood, east of Gaza City; Abu Jarad military site, southeast of Gaza City; ‘Emad Abu Qadous site, west of al-Maqousi buildings, north of Gaza City; another site to the east of al-Sheikh Zayed buildings, southeast of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip; and a training site, north of al-Nussairt in the central Gaza Strip. As a result of the airstrikes, damages were caused to the aforementioned sites, but no injuries were reported. On Friday early morning, 20 June 2014, Israeli warplanes launched 3 airstrikes. During which, they targeted a vacant land in al-Sabrah neighborhood in Gaza City. As a result, a barrack used as Chips factory was destroyed and burnt in addition to damages caused to the nearby houses; 8 of its residents, including 2 women and 2 children, sustained shrapnel wounds due to the flying glass. The two airstrikes on Khan Younis targeted a vacant land and military site for armed groups. No injuries were reported. Thus, the number of airstrikes launched on targets in the Gaza Strips has increased to 26 airstrikes since the beginning of this latest Israeli campaign. 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.