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In wake of attacks, Israeli officer vows strict punitive measures to come in Hebron

Sept. 16, 2016 9:20 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 18, 2016 6:06 P.M.)
An image shared by the Israeli army, allegedly showing a knife left behind after a car ramming attack on Friday.
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- After two Palestinians and one Jordanian were killed on Friday in separate incidents when they allegedly carried out attacks in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, an Israeli officer vowed that strict punishments would be imposed on Palestinian civilians residing in the villages from where the slain Palestinians originated.

Friday afternoon, Israeli forces shot and killed 18-year-old Fares Moussa Muhammad Khaddour and critically wounded his fiancee Raghad Abdullah Abdullah Khaddour, also 18, at the entrance of the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba just outside of Hebron's Old City, after the two allegedly carried out a car ramming attack that left three Israeli civilians injured.

Less than 45 minutes prior, a Jordanian citizen was shot and killed by Israeli forces after allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack outside Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem.

Hours later, another Palestinian man, who remained unidentified as of Friday evening, was shot and killed in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s Old City after reportedly stabbing and lightly injuring an Israeli soldier, just a short distance from the alleged car ramming attack in Kiryat Arba.

In a statement, Director of the Hebron district office for Israel's Coordinator of Israeli Government's Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Hariz Safadi said Israeli authorities could not rule out the possibility of imposing punitive measures in the villages where the slain Palestinians resided.

He added that the Israeli authorities had managed to “prove” the Khaddours had intended to carry out a car ramming attack and had ruled out the possibility that it was a road accident, without elaborating on how Israeli forces had come to the conclusion.

He said Israeli authorities "plan to impose punishments and security arrangements" on the Hebron-area village of Bani Naim, where the Khaddours were from, and its surrounding areas.

Safadi added that the attacks came after “a period of calm” in which Israeli forces provided "facilitation" for Palestinians, such as an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to move ahead with plans to build a gas pipeline to the Gaza Strip and an agreement allowing the PA to manage international postal services between the occupied Palestinian territory and the rest of the world.

Only a month ago, Israeli forces lifted a more than one-month military blockade on Bani Naim, imposed in July after a resident of the village killed a 13-year-old Israeli girl and wounded another Israeli in the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement. The Palestinian attacker was shot dead at the scene.

Following the siege of Bani Naim, the entire district of Hebron was also put under a military closure amid a massive manhunt for the suspect responsible for a shooting attack which left an Israeli man dead.

The manhunt was concluded when the gunman was killed after Israeli forces bombarded and destroyed a house while he was inside, by firing anti-tank missiles at the house and ultimately razing it to the ground with bulldozers.

The home of his accomplice, who was later imprisoned by Israel, was also punitively demolished, leaving his entire family homeless.

Israeli forces also detained scores of Hebron residents in nightly raids, restricted movement for tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians living in the Hebron area, revoked Israeli travel permits for some 2,700 residents, and cut tax transfers collected by Israel on behalf of the PA in the wake of the attacks.

Since a wave of unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October, which as of Friday left 226 Palestinians killed by Israelis and 32 Israelis killed by Palestinians, Israel has come under harsh international condemnation for its response to attacks, which rights groups have said amounted to “collective punishment” and represents a clear violation of international law.

The Hebron area in particular grew as the epicenter of upheaval, with Israeli authorities severely restricting the movement of Palestinians by declaring the area of Tel Rumeida and other parts of the Old City as a "closed military zone" for several months in November amid dozens of incidents in which more than 40 Palestinians were killed, while July’s closures on Hebron saw the most widespread restrictions on movement in the occupied West Bank in two years.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently unveiled a "carrot and stick" policy toward Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, whereby harsher punishment would be imposed upon families and villages from which "terrorists" originate, while economic benefits would be granted to areas that "have not produced terrorists."

“We will implement a differential policy in Judea and Samaria,” Lieberman said last month, using an Israeli term for the West Bank. “Its purpose is to continue to give benefits to those who desire coexistence with us and make life difficult for those who seek to harm Jews.”

"Anyone who is prepared for coexistence will prosper, while those who opt for terrorism will lose.”

During a raid into the Hebron-area town of Sair earlier this month, when Israeli forces reportedly threatened to detain a 10-month-old girl, soldiers hung a written warning on the front door of her family’s home that read: “In the wake of destructive attacks coming from your area against civilians, the Israeli defense forces and the Israeli security forces will operate with increased effort against terrorists and against anyone involved in such activity,” in what seemed to be among the first reported implementations of Lieberman's new policy.

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