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Israel using 'collective punishment' in search for teens

June 17, 2014 4:38 P.M. (Updated: June 22, 2014 2:25 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's massive arrest campaign, closure of large parts of West Bank cities, and the recent killing of a Palestinian youth in al-Jalazun refugee camp constitute collective punishment, Palestinian rights groups said Tuesday.

The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council, a collection of human rights groups, issued a statement calling on Israel to respect the "right to life" and ensure that the use of force does not endanger civilians.

"As the Occupying Power, Israel is obligated to carry out its search for the missing settlers in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law," PHROC said.

The methods being used to locate the youths are "indiscriminate in their nature" and "undermine the fundamental rights" of those affected, the groups said.

"Furthermore, these restrictive measures are being carried out based on mere speculation regarding both the identity of those responsible for the disappearances and their location."

"These measures indicate Israel's intention to impose punitive measures against large portions of the Palestinian population in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting reprisals against protected persons and their property, as well as collective punishment," the statement added.

Since three Israeli youths disappeared from an area near the settlement of Gush Etzion late Thursday, Israeli forces have arrested approximately 200 Palestinians, including eight members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Early Monday, Israeli soldiers raided al-Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah to make arrests. When Palestinians threw stones at the soldiers, they responded by opening fire and fatally wounding 20-year-old Ahmad Sabarin.

The day before, three people including a young child were injured when Israeli forces bombed open a door in Hebron.

PHROC condemned "Israel's disregard for its obligations under international law and its use of reprisals against the Palestinian population in carrying out its investigations into the disappeared youths."
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