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Rights groups say IDF response to kidnapping is collective punishment

Israel has restricted the movement of of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and arrested hundreds in response to the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. Arrests have included Palestinian parliament members and prisoners released in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit.

Text by Michael Omer-Man
Photos by Tess Scheflan and Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Israeli soldiers raid the West Bank city of Hebron on June 17, 2014, as the hunt for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by militants entered its fifth day. Thousands of Israel troops engaged in the search for the youths. Overnight, the army turned its attention during the night to the northern West Bank city of Nablus and surrounding areas, arresting dozens of Palestinians. (Photo: Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers raid the West Bank city of Hebron on June 17, 2014, as the hunt for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by militants entered its fifth day. Thousands of Israel troops engaged in the search for the youths. Overnight, the army turned its attention during the night to the northern West Bank city of Nablus and surrounding areas, arresting dozens of Palestinians. (Photo: Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

 

Since three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped outside a West Bank settlement six days ago, the Israeli military has placed massive and arbitrary restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in most of the southern West Bank.

The entire city of Hebron has been under complete closure for days, and a number of other major checkpoints in the southern West Bank, everything south of Bethlehem, have been closed to Palestinian traffic. Impromptu or temporary checkpoints have been erected elsewhere, restricting freedom of movement.

Arbitrary travel restrictions were placed on Palestinians whose official place of residence is Hebron, including preventing certain categories of Hebronites from leaving the West Bank to Jordan.

 

An elderly Palestinian man argues with an Israeli soldier taking part in the search operation for three Israeli teenagers believed to have been kidnapped by Palestinian militants, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank city of Hebron. Israel stepped up efforts against Hamas in the West Bank Tuesday as the hunt for three Israeli teenagers entered its fifth day. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An elderly Palestinian man argues with an Israeli soldier taking part in the search operation for three Israeli teenagers believed to have been kidnapped by Palestinian militants, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank city of Hebron. Israel stepped up efforts against Hamas in the West Bank Tuesday as the hunt for three Israeli teenagers entered its fifth day. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

 

An Israeli soldier checks a Palestinian man’s documents at a checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Hebron on June 17, 2014, as the hunt for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by militants entered its fifth day. (Photo: Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

An Israeli soldier checks a Palestinian man’s documents at a checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Hebron on June 17, 2014, as the hunt for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by militants entered its fifth day. (Photo: Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

 

A consortium of Palestinian human rights organizations on Tuesday described the restrictions, closures and arrests as collective punishment.

“Although some of the measures carried out by the Israeli forces in large parts of the West Bank may have a link to the investigation into the disappearances, the methods employed are indiscriminate in their nature and are undermining the fundamental rights of the persons concerned,” the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) wrote in a statement.

The group added that such actions indicate punitive measures against large portions of a protected population, therefore, violating Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. An official Palestinian government statement leveled similar accusations.

Israeli military and political officials have stated clearly that in addition to freeing the kidnapped Israeli teenagers, the current operation has a second goal: damaging Hamas’ military, social and media infrastructure in the West Bank.

Read also: Israel’s crackdown moves beyond Hamas militants

 

Israeli soldiers blindfold and arrest a young Palestinian man in Hebron. The Israeli army rounded up hundreds of Hamas members, including journalists and parliament members, while searching for three kidnapped Israeli teens. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers blindfold and arrest a young Palestinian man in Hebron. The Israeli army rounded up hundreds of Hamas members, including journalists and parliament members while searching for three kidnapped Israeli teens. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

The Israeli military has arrested over 260 Palestinians since the disappearance of the three teenagers, according Addameer, a Palestinian human rights organization that focuses on prisoners.

On Tuesday night alone, Israel arrested some 65 Palestinians, among whom the Israeli military said were 50 former prisoners who were freed in the swap that saw captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit released from Hamas captivity in 2011.

Israel has also arrested a large number of high-ranking Hamas officials in the West Bank, including a number of elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and its parliamentary speaker.

In the past, the Israeli military has captured senior members of enemy groups with whom it expects to conduct prisoner swap deals. Israel undertook a nearly identical arrest operation against Hamas political figures and parliamentarians in the West Bank after Gilad Schalit was captured on the Gaza border.

Read also: After indicting Hamas, Netanyahu declares war on all Palestinians

 

Palestinians look on as an Israeli soldier shoots rubber bullets during clashes with Palestinian youth in the West Bank city of Hebron, June 16, 2014. Israel broadened its search for three teenagers believed kidnapped by militants, arresting over over 200 Palestinians while imposing a tight closure on the southern West Bank city. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians look on as an Israeli soldier shoots rubber bullets during clashes with Palestinian youth in the West Bank city of Hebron, June 16, 2014. Israel broadened its search for three teenagers believed kidnapped by militants, arresting over over 200 Palestinians while imposing a tight closure on the southern West Bank city. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

 

Israeli soldiers walk near a burning tire during clashes in Hebron. (photo: Activestills)

Israeli soldiers walk near a burning tire during clashes in Hebron. (photo: Activestills)

 

Dozens of Palestinians have been wounded in clashes that broke out during Israeli military arrest raids throughout the West Bank in recent days. One man was killed in such clashes in a refugee camp adjacent to Ramallah.

The arrest raids have taken place both in areas under full Israeli military control, as well as deep within cities classified as Area A, which under the Oslo Accords are supposed to be under full Palestinian security and civil control.

Settler attacks against Palestinian civilians have also taken place on a nearly daily basis since the kidnappings. The Israeli military has stopped a majority of such attacks, but at least a handful of Palestinians have been wounded and there have been at least a dozen cases of property damage.

 

Right-wing Israeli settlers burn a Palestinian flag and shout racist slogans during an anti-Palestinian demonstration at [Gush] Etzion junction, a bloc of settlements next to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, June 16, 2014. Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped near the Etzion junction late last week. (Oren Ziv/Activestlls.org)

Right-wing Israeli settlers burn a Palestinian flag and shout racist slogans during an anti-Palestinian demonstration at [Gush] Etzion junction, a bloc of settlements next to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, June 16, 2014. Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped near the Etzion junction late last week. (Oren Ziv/Activestlls.org)

 

In one case, a Palestinian man was struck in the face by a rock thrown by settlers near the notorious Yitzhar settlement, and subsequently hospitalized. (Graphic photo here.) In the same area of the northern West Bank, settlers have thrown stones at passing Palestinian cars, injuring at least three.

In another case in the southern West Bank, some 30 settlers invaded the Palestinian village of Susya and threw stones at homes. They reportedly attempted to attack a 13 year old, but were prevented from doing so.

In addition, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fired rockets into Israeli territory on an almost nightly basis since last Wednesday and Israeli warplanes and helicopters have responded by launching airstrikes in the Strip, killing one man and a seven-year-old child, and injuring at least two others. No Israelis have been injured from the rocket fire.

The three Israeli teenagers are still unaccounted for and no Palestinian group has made a credible claim of responsibility. Israel has accused Hamas of being behind the kidnapping but the Islamic group has not claimed responsibility and called such accusations “stupid.” No ransom or other demands have been made by any Palestinian group.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week told the public not to expect a quick end of the military operations seeking to return them.

More on the kidnappings:
Matar: Israel’s crackdown moves beyond Hamas militants
Badawi: After indicting Hamas, Netanyahu declares war on all Palestinians
Sheizaf: Reward activism and diplomacy, not violence

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  • COMMENTS

      • I was going off Human Rights Watch… They’ve just gone up in my estimation.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          Of course they did. Why should anybody be surprised that a supporter of Palestinians would cynically use a human rights organization to further his ideology?

          A human rights organization that can’t bring itself to criticize the illegal kidnapping of teenagers needs to shut itself down. There’s a good reason HRW’s founder walked away from what he created.

          Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            Not just HRW, of course.

            Netanyahu must be quite perplexed about the muted international response to this kidnapping.

            Apparently the consensus outside of Israel is this: what did Israel expect to happen?

            Colonizing an occupied territory is illegal, and it amounts to the occupying power deliberately putting its civilians in harms way for reasons of territorial self-aggrandizement.

            Well, heck, if a govt insists on putting its civilians in harms way then it is pretty inevitable that harm will come to them.

            Which, apparently, it has.

            A pity for those three youths, sure, it is.

            But maybe, just maybe, they should have considered that putting themselves in harm’s way is reckless and irresponsible, and that they should have said to the Israeli govt that encouraged them to colonize this territory “thanks, but no thanks”.

            I hope those three boys are released unharmed.

            Really, I do.

            But they are colonists who willingly put themselves in harm’s way because they want to help their government satisfy its hard-on for this territory.

            So cry me a river, Bar.

            But from where I’m sitting it looks very much like crocodile tears.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            I feel like I’m speaking with a teenager. Grow up.

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            And I feel like I’m speaking to a sanctimonious prig.

            Reply to Comment
    1. Ginger Eis

      You can’t fix stupid!

      1. “Settlers” are non-State actors. Article 33 Geneva Convention VI regards them not. As such, the claim of “collective punishment” based on alleged acts of non-State actors fails.

      2. (a) The hostages are minors; (b) said hostages are in all reasonability somewhere in Judea & Samaria, (c) the lives of the hostages are in acute danger, (d) there is widespread support among the Palestinian population for the hostage-takers and the misfortune of the hostages and (e) the IDF does not know the exact place the hostages are being held and the specific individuals holding them. Given these factors, there is more than probable cause to search every inch of Judea & Samaria, every house, every container, every car and every etc. and arrest members of the terrorist organization against which there is probable cause to believe that it is responsible for the kidnapping. The aim of the operation is clear and legitimate: saving the lives of the hostages. In addition to that, the measures employed to achieve said aim are proportionate relative to the aim they pursue and are – above all – the least intrusive/severe/harmful amongst all other available measures (and anyone who knows what the IDF should have done different, pls. speak up now!). As such, any inconvenience any ordinary, innocent Palestinian may (have) suffer(ed) as a result of said measures is JUSTIFIED and does NOT amount to “punishment” within the meaning of Article 33 Geneva Convention VI.

      Reply to Comment
      • No, settlers have been invited by the State into the territories, or condoned once there, protected and directly assisted by the State in obtaining resources such as water and electricity, as well as had the State declare prior resident land “public” for thier later use. They are agents of the State, even to the extent of having liaison representatives with the IDF. They are not “non-State actors,” any more than claiming a corporation contracting with the State is not subject to limitations on the State.

        On the plus side, I read that a majority of present settler incursions are being interdicted by the IDF.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          Mr. Greg Pollock, the definition of State is well-settled in both domestic- and International law. Who is- and who is not a State-actor are also subject to domestic- and International law and are well-defined and well-settled in both domestic- and International law. The criteria for determining whether or not a non-governmental organization/group/individual acts on behalf of a State pursuant to a contract/agreement are well-defined and well-settled in both domestic- and International law. Your own PERSONAL OPINIONS in these matters inconsequential.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Your own PERSONAL OPINIONS in these matters ARE inconsequential (was meant. Apology for the typo).

            Reply to Comment
          • directrob

            Ginger, you do not document your case. Greg makes valid points and I can add to them that settlements and settlers have a security function (Israeli High Court)

            There is no doubt that settlers are state actors.

            See: Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982)

            For a lighter touch:
            http://lawandthemultiverse.com/2010/11/30/is-batman-a-state-actor/

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Directrob,
            1. Here is the text of the case you cited: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1231702144763230317.
            2. You misread the case, i.e. none, and I mean NONE, of the CUMMULATIVE criteria mentioned in said case is present in the conduct of Israeli private citizens living in Judea & Samaria: (a) Said Israelis have no State-powers bestowed unto them: (b) said Israelis do not perform any State-duty pursuant to a contract/an agreement or enforce any State law/policy as private citizens; (c) said Israelis do not receive any compensation from Israel for the personal choices they make in their private lives and activities they perform pursuant to said personal choices; (d) providing public services to a population in exchange for money/at a fixed rate (as does EVERY SINGLE government in the world) does not turn said population into State-actors (I can forgive Mr. Greg Pollock’s ignorance, but I am still bamboozled that someone of your caliber is also making such a silly claim); (e) the same public services Israel provides to Israelis in Judea & Samaria, she also provides to Palestinians in Judea & Samaria at an even cheaper rate (!). Accordingly, said Israelis are no more/less State-actors than the Palestinians are.
            3. Pls. always read a case very carefully before resting your case on them, otherwise you singlehandedly demolish your own case.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Additionally, Directrob, you need to distinguish between private citizens, i.e. the entire population and the private security agents/firms who are empowered by the State to carry out specific activities. Lumping all of them together is a fatal thought-error. Furthermore, if you know of any Israeli High Court decision wherein it is determined that the entire Jewish population in Judea & Samaria are State-actors, PLEASE link it. Otherwise, you need to retract your post, seriously.

            Reply to Comment
          • directrob

            Ginger, I guess you are aware of Summary of the Opinion Concerning Unauthorized Outposts by Talya Sason. It shows how intertwined state and settler movement are. As a consequence setlers are state actors.

            As to the general idea that settlements are of strategic value I point to the article “Behind the Settlements Daniel Kurtzer”

            http://www.the-american-interest.com/articles/2010/03/01/behind-the-settlements/

            Of course there is no case were the HCJ gave an opinion about all settlements. They do their utmost to avoid that. Up to 1979 they did however support that the settlements on private land served a clear military need (but they did not allow it after the fact). Daniel Kurtzer shows that there is still the claim of military need. The difference is that they are now built on “”state land”".

            As a consequence setlers are state actors.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Directrob, you are literally all over the map, confusing the issues and constantly shifting the goal post by introducing irrelevant new links and convoluting the debate with them:
            1. First you claimed that “settlers are security agents” and “state actors” according to the Israeli High Court. This claim is false, as you have conceded. The HCJ never made any such determination.
            2. Secondly you claimed that “there is no doubt that settlers are state actors” based on the case-law: Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982). However, neither said case-law nor the quote in the link you provided supports your claim – as you have also conceded (pls. correct me if I am mistaken about your concession and tell me how said case-law supports your claim!).
            3. Now you claim that the “Summary of the Opinion Concerning UNAUTHORIZED OUTPOSTS (emphasis mine)” by Talya Sason, Adv. “shows how intertwined state and settler movement are. As a consequence setlers are state actors”. Here is the link to said Summary: http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/aboutisrael/state/law/pages/summary%20of%20opinion%20concerning%20unauthorized%20outposts%20-%20talya%20sason%20adv.aspx. However, the Summary is limited to the illegal practices re “unauthorize outpost”, and that is definitely NOT the topic of discussions here. You are thus OT. Beyond that, the Summary in question does not in any way support your (blanket) claim that “settlers are state actors”, unless you think that if, hypothetically speaking, at least ONE “settler” somewhere is considered a State-actor in ONE specific instance, then ALL “settlers” (including the kids) are State-actors EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIMES and with regard to EVERYTHING they do (even when they are eating, throwing stone, fighting each other, destroying IDF vehicles and bases, etc.)! If not, then you must acknowledge that your claim is false. (b) Most importantly, said Summary does not in any way support the claim that “settlers” violated Article 33 Geneva Convention IV as alleged in the piece by Mr. Michael Omer-Man and supported by you and Greg Pollock and this is what we are debating here (the rest is just OT). If you disagree, pls. make your case and please stay on point.

            Reply to Comment
          • directrob

            All over the place?

            Up to 79 the military commander could confiscate some private land and give it to settlers under the claim the settlers had a strategic function. ( The moment the commander did it after the settlement was founded the HCJ disagreed ). Were the settlers not strategic the settlements would have been illegal.

            The illegal settlements have almost always support of the Israeli state. The same is true for illegal expansion of existing settlements (Talya Sason, Daniel Kurtzer).

            The Israeli government and the settlers claim the settlements are of strategic importance (Sharon, Daniel Kurtzer).

            All settlements are illegal (security council) so an Israeli person moving to any settlement must know it is in conflict with international law and in support of state strategy. Very few can claim innocence.

            The conclusion must be that the state supports the settlers and the settlers support the state.

            State actor here does not mean “soldier” just that Israel is responsible for the settler actions.

            As a consequence “settlers” can violate Article 33 Geneva Convention IV.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            You see, Directrob, whether or not a private person is a State-actor is determined (a) on ‘individual basis’, (b) on ‘case-by-case basis’, (c) with regard to a specific act or a chain of related acts and (d) for a soecific given situation. No private person is EVER a State-actor by virtue of WHERE he/she LIVES, but rather by virtue of WHAT he/she DID/DOES! This is the science and your acceptance or rejection of it is of no effect whatsoever. Your claim that “settlers are state actors” is thus fundamentally false and has no basis in the law! For your information, the Sason report did NOT determine that “settlers are state-actors” as you falsely continue to claim, and even IF based on that report it could be said that a FEW private individuals were State-actors, said determination can only be based solely on their specific acts in erecting “unauthorized outposts” and is only valid for said for said specific few individuals and only with regard to said specific “unauthorized outposts”. Anything that goes further than that has no basis in law. You either understand the subtleties involved or you don’t (in which case there is nothing I can do about it).

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            The case-law you relied on (Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937, 1982), is a very good one and comprehensively answers the central question of our discussion. The only problem with it is this: it comprehensively destroys YOUR case. Why? Because the criteria set forth therein are not met in the present case! How so? Here is why: when the “settlers” did the stuff ALLEGED in the article, they were neither (a) exercising any “rights/privileges created by the State” or (b) acting pursuant to any “rule of conduct imposed by the State” nor (c) “is the State responsible for them” (in tort law, the State is only responsible for the actions/omissions of its own employees and/or its contractors or for specific occurrences explicitly mentioned in the text of the law). Residency rights/privileges in Israel, Judea & Samaria do not include crimes (which Israel btw strenuously rejects and prosecutes!). Accordingly, the “settlers” may not be deemed State-actors within the meaning of YOUR OWN case-law and their actions fall thus outside the ambit of Article 33 Geneva Convention VI. End of story.

            (Sidebar: I would urgently urge you to read YOUR OWN case-law in its ENTIRETY before going any further with this discussion).

            Reply to Comment
          • First, I don’t think anyone wants to claim that every bodily evacuation by a settler is a state action; nor such’s release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The question is whether settlers, engaged in trespasses on person and property, their presence enabled by the State, their persons often at the time of trespass protected by the State, colors their action as State action.

            The US Supreme Court case Directrob cites says it does. Here is a summary of Lugar’s outcome from Oyez.org:

            ‘The Court decided that a state was liable for damages caused by unconstitutional conduct when two conditions were met. First, “the deprivation [of a constitutional right] must be caused by the exercise of some right or privilege created by the State.” Second, “the party charged with the deprivation must be a person who may fairly be said to be a state actor.” This includes both state officials and those whom are significantly aided by them.’

            “Significant aid” is clearly reached in the settlements. The first condition, of deprivation of right, is met through the Convention prohibitions. But this is American Case law only.

            I believe the High Court has itself declared that the IDF must protect prior residents as well as settlers, so the High Court has, independently of the Convention, reached the question of protection from trespass.

            All of this can be made to go away if the IDF would simply directly protect prior residents as well as settler citizens, arresting any of the former when they violate trespass. These arrested would then no longer be de facto agents of the State, protected in their trespass.

            Reply to Comment
          • oops. Not “any of the former” but “any of the latter.”

            I’ve reduce the text size of my screen so that any future capitalization does not cause permanent eye damage, so go ahead and capitalize.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            You see, Mr. Pollock, you read but you don’t understand, and it shows – big time. Even if you read a hundred times, you still won’t and can’t understand. The subject at issue is pure legal science and it is not your fault that you don’t understand, because no one is ever born with the tools you need but don’t have in order to understand and argue within the logic of the system. People go to school to acquire said tools and you did not. You have tried your best. That’s impressive, but said best is not remotely good enough and I do not intend to run around circles with you. Give it a rest and discuss the kind of stuff you can handle. No offence whatsoever intended.

            Reply to Comment
    2. sh

      “The hostages are minors;”
      Two of them are. The age of majority in Israel is 18. Eyal Yifrach is 19.

      The self-declared aim of the operation is also to remove Hamas from the PA by eradicating the movement in the West Bank.

      “Gantz said: “We have a goal, and that is to find these three boys and bring them home, and to hit Hamas as hard as possible – and that is what we are going to do. ”
      That was a couple of days ago. Today they said they would broaden their anti-Hamas campaign still further and coalition MKs have been bandying the idea of their “transfer” all week.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        In all cases of organized crime (and terrorism is a special category thereof), arresting the members of the criminal organization and confiscating the tools of their criminal enterprise (for evidentiary purposes), disrupting their criminal activities and dismantling their criminal infrastructure are key demands of public order/public safety and are integral parts/components of the investigation/law enforcement operations. The IDF would indeed be grossly/criminally negligent and incompetent if it were to leave the terrorist infrastructure intact.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          Btw. Sh, on the thread: “Israel takes a page from the Guantanamo playbook” (http://972mag.com/on-force-feeding-israel-takes-a-page-from-the-guantanamo-playbook/91938/), I accepted your challenge and comprehensively proved you wrong. My last post was a question to you under the heading “curious”. You are yet to answer that question. I am entitled to an answer. I think we all have to be honest and clear re our positions.

          Reply to Comment
          • sh

            I never went back to look. As for the entitlement you claim, you use up infinitely more space than I do here and posterity will have to judge whether you comprehensively proved me wrong or not, we’re in another ballgame now. Last night we heard, via a Haredi news service, an IDF admission that its Brothers Keeper campaign was ready before the kidnap that gave it its name. The rest of what was said explains the subsequent overnight shooting dead of a 13 year old Palestinian boy in Dura near Hebron.

            Reply to Comment
          • Naftali Greenwood

            That the IDF had such contingency plans in place squares with the plain fact of Israel’s ultimate responsibility for security in what the Oslo accords call “the territory.” As an internationally recognized terror organization, Hamas deserves eradication wherever it raises its head.

            Reply to Comment
    3. JG

      Isreal now goes full fascism in the Westbank to give boners for righwingers.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “Isreal now goes full fascism in the Westbank to give boners for righwingers.”

        You have a boner every time you make a hateful comment about Israel you dickhead.

        Reply to Comment
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