In conjunction with the current escalation in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) launched in the early morning of Sunday, 21 August 2011, a large-scale military campaign against many neighbors and streets and dozens of houses in Hebron. During this campaign, IOF arrested at least 50 Palestinians, mostly members and activists of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), a journalist, some academics and members of charitable associations. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns this operation and believes it is part of the ongoing Israeli escalation and collective punishment in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). PCHR calls upon the international community to promptly intervene in order to compel the government of Israel to stop systematic crimes collective punishment measures against Palestinian civilians.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 00:30 on Sunday, a large Israeli military force, backed by at least 100 military vehicles, 2 armored personnel carriers, trucks and 2 ambulances stormed into Hebron through many of its main entrances. They closed all the entrances leading to Hebron and divided themselves into separate units. They drove in the streets and stormed the areas of Ras al-Jora, Ber al-Mahjar, al-Jame'a, Abu Kteila, al-Salam Street, Ein Sara, al-Mahawer, al-Sheikh, Nemra, al-Hawouz al-Thani, Wad al-Hariyah and Um al-Dalia in the north, northwest, center and southwest of Hebron. They raided dozens of houses amidst intensive firing of sound bombs and bullets in the air. They evacuated these houses and forced residents to stay in the open air. They searched the evacuated houses. They checked the ID cards of residents and checked some of them at gunpoint. Some relatives of Palestinians who were arrested reported that IOF used sniffer dogs. The detainees and their families were subjected to degrading and humiliating treatment.
Before withdrawing at approximately 04:50, IOF arrested more than 50 Palestinians including several academics, social figures and members of charitable associations. The detainees include: ‘Aamer Abdul Rahman Abu Arafah, 27, a reporter for Shihab News Agency; Jawad al-Ja’bari, 38, Director of the Muslim Youth Association; Dr. Amjad Ameen al-Hammouri, 38, a dentist and social activist; and Dr, Qassem Mustafa al-Qawasmi, a lecturer in al-Quds Open University. Later, the detainees were transported to Kfar Etzion detention center, southwest of Bethlehem. It should be noted that this military operation is the largest of its kind in Hebron since 2004.
At the same time, IOF moved into the villages of Dura, Beit Awwa, al-Smou', Beit Ola, Ethna and Sourif, southwest and northwest of Hebron. They raided and searched many houses after evacuating the residents and forcing them to stay in the open air. Before withdrawing, they arrested 10 Palestinians, including Mohammed Metleq Abdul Mahdi Abu Jheisha, 57, PLC Member from the Change and Reform Bloc affiliated to Hamas; and ‘Ali Ahmed ‘Abdul Fattah al-Hour, a lecturer in al-Quds Open University.
PCHR renews its condemnation of this operation and:
1. Affirms that this operation in Hebron and in a number of nearby towns and villages is part of the policy of collective punishment imposed by IOF against Palestinian civilians and part of the measures aimed at terrifying the civilian population.
2. Calls upon the international community to promptly intervene to put an end to such attacks, and renews its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1 of the Convention to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and under Article 146 to prosecute perpetrators of grave breaches, which constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.
3. Calls upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately visit the OPT to witness the ongoing war crimes and serious violations of human rights in the OPT.
4. Calls upon the international community to activate the Goldstone Report in the next meeting of the UN General Assembly in next September.
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893 PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail: email@example.com, Webpage http://www.pchrgaza.org