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'Collective punishment' enacted on West Bank Palestinians for 6th day running

Oct. 1, 2017 2:51 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 2, 2017 5:02 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces imposed a general closure on a cluster of villages in the central occupied West Bank northwest of Jerusalem for the sixth consecutive day on Sunday, in what Israeli human rights group B’Tselem denounced as an act of “collective punishment” on tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians.

Locals have been largely trapped inside the villages as a result of military roadblocks and strict security checks, since Sept. 26, when 37-year-old Nimr Jamal from Beit Surik carried out a shooting attack outside of the adjacent illegal Har Adar settlement, leaving an Israeli border police officer and two Israeli security guards killed.

The Israeli army said only “humanitarian cases” would be allowed passage in and out of Beit Surik, Biddu, and up to nine other neighboring localities.

On Sunday, locals told Ma’an that the area had been turned into an “open-air prison,” and “threatened to trigger a humanitarian catastrophe” as the entry of food supplies to these villages has been impeded.

B’Tselem emphasized that the Israeli military sealed off all entries and exits in Beit Surik itself, where soldiers have also taken over seven rooftops, kicking residents out. In Biddu, Israeli forces took over eight rooftops having turned out the residents. Several other homes have been raided and in some cases property has been destroyed.

Raids in Beit Surik and Bidda have sparked clashes, with Israeli forces violently suppressing protesters with live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas, forcing schools in both villages to shut down, according to B’Tselem.

The siege has also caused severe gridlock in the area, as long lines of cars pile up behind checkpoints and crowd through detour routes.

At at least one roadblock near Biddu and another at the entrance to Beit Anan, Israeli soldiers started denying passage to anyone under 40 years old, and anyone who is not a resident.

Israeli forces have taken measurements of Jamal’s family’s house in preparation to punitively demolish it, interrogated and detained several members of his family including two of his brothers, and revoked revoked all of his family members’ permits to enter Israel for work.

According to B’Tselem, five demolition orders and 15 stop-work orders have also been issued in Beit Surik, all under the pretext of “illegal construction," and where some 30 cars have also been confiscated. In Biddu, 25 cars have been confiscated.

B’Tselem estimated that some 40,000 Palestinians were being collectively punished as a result of the ongoing security measures.

“Disrupting the lives of tens of thousands of people, who have done nothing wrong and are not suspected of any wronging in such a severe manner is completely unjustifiable. This violence against the population is an exploitation of the military’s power and authority in aid of wanton abuse of civilians without any accountability,” “B’Tselem said.
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