Human Rights Organizations: “Refrain from Collectively Punishing Palestinians.”

Published: 
22 Jun 2014

Concern that many of the military’s actions in the Occupied Territories do not directly serve the aim of locating and returning the three abducted Israelis and are severely and unnecessarily violating basic human rights.

This morning, 22 June 2014, human rights organizations active in the Occupied Territories sent an urgent letter to the heads of the Israeli security establishment and military commanders in the West Bank, demanding that they refrain from collectively punishing the civilian Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of Operation Brother’s Keeper. The letter also demanded that the more stringent restrictions imposed on the detention conditions of Palestinian prisoners be withdrawn.

The letter – by the directors of Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Gisha, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Yesh Din, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights and Breaking the Silence – was sent to the Minister of Defense and Minister of Public Security and made clear that the abductions constitute a violation of the fundamental principles of law and morals and must be condemned. The need to return the abducted Israelis safe and sound to their homes and families is clear. Yet, there is concern that many of the actions undertaken harm the Palestinian population and do not serve this purpose.

The large number of raids and arrests over the last week raises concerns that some of these operations are not the result of pressing operational needs. Overall, the measures adopted and their extent do not seem to serve a military need that can justify the damage they have caused. This is the case in terms of the military activity that has taken place in city centers as well as the sweeping and arbitrary travel restrictions. These actions have caused, and continue to cause, disproportionate harm to the basic rights of Palestinians, including the right to safety, health, freedom of movement and the right to earn a living.

Furthermore, the imposition of restrictive and punitive conditions on Palestinian prisoners solely because of their organizational affiliation is a blatant violation of the prohibition against collective punishment. Similarly, in terms of administrative detainees, it is hard not to question if there is really an immediate, essential military need that entailed the swift detention without trial of dozens of people.

The undersigned organizations emphasize that actions designed to intimidate and pressure the local population are illegal and untenable.

The following organizations signed the letter:

Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Yesh Din, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights and Breaking the Silence.