Over the past week, Israeli investigations continued in search of the three settlers who disappeared on 12 June 2014 near the city of Hebron. Israel continued its policy of extensive searches, house raids, excessive use of force, closure, and mass arrests across cities of the West Bank. Since 12 June there has been an increase in the number of Israeli military checkpoints that separate Palestinian cities, particularly in the southern parts of the West Bank in the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron. Israeli military vehicles were positioned at the entrance of a number of villages and refugee camps, restricting the movement of thousands of residents. According to Al-Haq documentation, between 23 – 29 June Israeli forces arrested 70 Palestinians from the governorates of Nablus, Qalqiliyya, Salfit, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin and Tulkarem. According to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the total number of Palestinians detained following the settlers’ disappearance amounts to approximately 700, of whom around 475 are still in detention and 170 have been placed under administrative detention. During the same period, Israeli forces conducted raids and ransacked Palestinian homes mainly in the districts of Jenin, Nablus and Hebron.
On 25 June, Israeli special units raided Isfay area in al-Sammou’ (Hebron governorate), and fired live bullets at 23-year-old Ismai’l Ahmad Hawamda, hitting him in the right shoulder and waist. On 26 June, Israeli forces carried out house raids in Yatta (Hebron governorate). Residents of the area were assaulted while some of their property and money were stolen by Israeli soldiers. Since 13 June, Israel has conducted repeated raids targeting al-Hasaka area, west of Halhul (Hebron governorate) where houses and water wells were searched. Several houses were damaged and some of the property confiscated. Residents of the area were interrogated and detained outside of their houses for hours, some of which were subsequently arrested. On 26 June, in al-Ras area in the city of Hebron, Israeli forces beat several members from al-Ja’bari family and fired live ammunition and sound canisters towards the family’s house. Eight members of the family were arrested while nine others sustained injuries. In addition, 70-year-old Fatma Isma’il Issa died as a result of a heart attack following the raid of her house by Israeli soldiers in al-‘Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron city on 26 June. Despite Fatma’s serious condition, Israeli forces delayed the ambulance for about an hour before it could reach her and did not provide her with any medical assistance.
In the case of 25-year-old Mustafa Aslan cited in Al-Haq’s previous report, Mustafa was announced dead after five days of being in a state of clinical death. Israeli soldiers had shot Mustafa in the head with live ammunition on 20 June in Qalandia refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, while raiding the camp. On 24 June in the south of Nablus, a group of Israeli soldiers raided the village of Madama, broke into homes and searched through approximately 200 houses. The forces also took over the boys’ high school, using it as a military base. Around 100 residents were held, blindfolded with their hands tied, inside the school. An Israeli intelligence officer interrogated them. One of the Palestinians detained was also beaten.
In Biral-Basha village, south of Jenin, Israeli military forces raided a house for two hours, throughout which they held the family in their front yard. Much of the property was damaged and a tractor was confiscated. The owner of the house was detained for ten hours near Dutan Gate, south of Jenin.
In the past week, Al-Haq field researchers also documented Israeli attacks targeting the Gaza Strip through both aerial missiles, and live fire and shells in the buffer zone. On 27 June, in the west of Gaza city, two militants accused of firing rockets at Israeli targets were killed upon impact of two Israeli missiles. In another incident, Israeli soldiers located at the buffer zone opened fire on Palestinian civilians collecting plastic from a dumpster in the northeast of Wadi Gaza, hitting 18-year-old Ra’ouf Iyad Obeid with a bullet in the right thigh. On 27 June, Israeli tanks located at the buffer zone east of Khan Younis shelled a minaret and a signal tower – both located on the roof of a residential house. The shelling injured eight people including two children aged 9 and 11 years old, one of which sustained a serious injury in the back.
On 30 June, Israeli authorities announced that the three settlers were found dead. Since then, Israeli settler attacks against Palestinian civilians, particularly children, and their property have escalated. Acts of violence have been carried out against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, including the running over of a 9-year-old girl by an Israeli settler near al-Jab’aa village, south west of Bethlehem. The girl remains in hospital in critical condition. There have been reports of several attempted abductions by settlers across occupied Palestine. On 2 July, 17-year-old Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdair was abducted near his house in the Shu’fat neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem and his body was subsequently found charred in a separate part of Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military continues to carry out acts of collective punishment, particularly through blanket raids of homes and arrests of Palestinians across the West Bank. Furthermore, the Israeli military has bombed three Palestinian houses thus far in the district of Hebron, alleging that their owners are affiliated with the death of the three missing settlers and previous attacks against Israeli officers.