On 11 March 2011, five members of a settler family, including three children, were murdered in the Israeli settlement of Itamar in the West Bank. This appalling crime led to an investigation by the Israeli military in the nearby Palestinian village of ‘Awarta (Nablus Governorate). The incident was followed by incitement and exploitation at a ministerial level as Israeli leaders hastily condemned Palestinian involvement and attempted to use the crime as a pretext for further construction of illegal settlements. The incident also led to an escalation in settler violence throughout the West Bank. Many of the measures carried out in ‘Awarta in support of the Israeli investigation for suspects to the killing in Itamar, violated Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law and must be considered within the context of Israel’s policing and law enforcement powers in occupied territory. This paper examines the measures taken by the Israeli army in ‘Awarta under international humanitarian and human rights law, on the basis of the documentation collected by Al-Haq’s field researchers.
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