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IDF kills two Palestinians far from center of search operation

In Ramallah, Palestinian youth clash with raiding Israeli soldiers and Palestinian police alike. Israeli Border Police shoot to death a mentally unstable man in Nablus.

Israeli forces killed two Palestinians overnight in the northern West Bank, far from the center of search operations for three kidnapped Israeli teens in the southern Hebron region. The two killings bring the number of Palestinians killed since the start of the operation 10 days ago up to five. Dozens more have been injured.

Military and political officials in Israel have said publicly that the current operation is only partly aimed at finding the kidnapped Israelis and that the army is also taking the opportunity to target Hamas in the West Bank.

Raids and arrests have targeted Hamas affiliated charities, educational institutions, media outlets, elected officials and major universities, along with other activists and Hamas members. Over 300 have been arrested since the start of the operation.

An Israeli soldier stands on the rooftop of a Palestinian home in the West Bank city of Hebron, June 18, 2014. (File photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An Israeli soldier stands on the rooftop of a Palestinian home in the West Bank city of Hebron, June 18, 2014. (File photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In a Nablus refugee camp early Sunday morning Border Police officers shot and killed Ahmad Said Suod Khalid, a 36-year-old mentally unstable man on his way to morning prayers. He reportedly ignored the paramilitary troops’ warnings to stop.

In Ramallah, Mahmoud Ismail Atallah, 30, was shot and killed on a rooftop in the center of the city. He was likely shot by soldiers positioned on adjacent rooftops, according to Israeli and Palestinian reports.

Palestinian youth threw rocks at and clashed with Israeli soldiers who had invaded Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital and an area that according to the Oslo Accords is supposed to be under full Palestinian security control.

The clashes turned against PA police when Israeli soldiers reportedly took shelter in or near a Palestinian police station; the youth chanted against collaboration between PA security forces and the Israeli army. At least 10 were injured, according to Palestinian news agency Ma’an.

In an interview with Haaretz over the weekend, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas noted that since the start of 2013, Palestinian police have stopped 43 kidnappings and other attacks targeting Israelis. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he holds the PA is responsible for all attacks originating in its territory.

Earlier on Saturday, a Palestinian teenager was discovered dead near an Israeli army base in the northern Jordan Valley in the West Bank. The cause of death had not been determined.

A group of Israeli human rights organizations on Sunday sent an urgent letter to Israeli defense officials and senior officers demanding that they refrain from inflicting collective punishment on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Overall, the measures adopted and their extent do not seem to serve a military need that can justify the damage they have caused. This is the case in terms of the military activity that has taken place in city centers as well as the sweeping and arbitrary travel restrictions,” the letter read.

“These actions have caused, and continue to cause, disproportionate harm to the basic rights of Palestinians, including the right to safety, health, freedom of movement and the right to earn a living.” (Read the full letter here.)

Among the signatories on the letter were B’Tselem, Gisha, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Adalah, the Public Committee Against Torture Israel, Yesh Din, Hamoked, Amnesty International and Breaking the Silence.

The letter follows a similar declaration by a consortium of Palestinian human and civil rights groups, who wrote last week that Israel’s military operation constitutes collective punishment.

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron take part in the search operation for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, June 18, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron take part in the search operation for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, June 18, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli efforts to locate three kidnapped teenage civilians have not been fruitful despite a 10-day search effort that led to a near-complete closure on the largest Palestinian city, Hebron. Additional restrictions on movement have been placed on the southern West Bank, especially in the area surrounding Hebron.

Some of the restrictions on movement were eased on Sunday but Israel is still barring most male residents of the Hebron governate from leaving the West Bank and will not allow those with work permits to enter Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that Israel has “unequivocal proof” that Hamas is behind the kidnappings and that he will make that information public soon. Hamas has not taken responsibility for the kidnapping and called Netanayahu’s accusations against it, “stupid.”

Abbas last week issued his strongest yet condemnation of the kidnapping while on a visit to Saudi Arabia.

More on the kidnappings:
This is what a military operation in Hebron looks like
In numbers: The kidnapping and Israel’s military response
Rights groups say IDF response to kidnapping is collective punishment

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