Israel’s latest crackdown on Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron is an escalation of its ongoing brutality and defiance of international norms and civilised standards.
In a continuing military operation to locate three illegal settlers who have gone missing Israeli forces have so far killed one Palestinian teenager and rounded up hundreds of others in a dragnet that includes women, children and politicians.
The three missing students are part of a hard core of heavily armed settlers residing in a fortified part of Hebron seized from local Palestinian residents. Guarded day and night by Israeli soldiers the settlers routinely terrorise the local Palestinian population. Scores of Palestinians have been shot dead by the hardline Zionist settlers, bomb attacks have targeted Palestinian markets and hundreds of locals, including women and children, have been subjected to arbitrary violence and seen their businesses and farms damaged.
The need to protect the illegal settlers impinges on the daily lives of Palestinians. Their freedom of movement is severely restricted, even to the extent that some are unable to access their own farmland or receive timely medical attention, while the diversion of water resources to illegal settlements regularly leads to water shortages for Palestinians.
IHRC believes that Israel’s protection and support of the settlers in open defiance of international law is the root cause of ongoing tensions. Instead of dismantling the settlements and removing the settlers it continues to consolidate its hold over Palestinian land making any peace talks or agreement ever more distant.
The current Israeli response is wholly disproportionate and only underlines the growing view that Israel views the Palestinian issue as a security problem rather than a political one. In the last few days Israel has poured more troops into an already heavily militarised city. Innocent Palestinians have seen their homes broken into by armed soldiers, been beaten and led away for questioning. One 19-year old Palestinian was shot dead as youths threw stones at soldiers to protest the military crackdown.
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “Unless Israel accepts the reality that the cause of the conflict is its brutal illegal occupation and disregard for international norms and due process there will be no solution and indeed we are likely to see more escalations. At the same time the international community needs to apply pressure on Israel to abide by international law.”
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