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Israel's search for settlers led to collective punishment, rights group

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Israeli earch illegalIn its search for three missing settlers, Israel has imposed unlawful collective punishment on Palestinians living in Hebron, the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said Tuesday.

“Security force have extensive operational powers to achieve the rightful and essential objective of finding the abducted teens,” B’Tselem said in a statement Tuesday. “Yet these powers are not unlimited, and not all measures are lawful.”

The southern West Bank city – under Israeli military closure since Saturday – has long been a flash point for confrontation. As long ago as 1929, Hebron saw 67 Jews massacred in a pogrom. After Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 and allowed Israeli settlers to take over apartment buildings in the city, it became a source of escalating tension with local Palestinians – and was the site of a 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers at a mosque by an Israeli settler.

As Israel launches a wide crackdown in response to the kidnapping of three teenage students from the city last Thursday, Hebron’s 750,000 residents on Tuesday found themselves under a third day of closure by the Israel military – which has blocked all main entrances to the city and stationed soldiers at other entrances, B’Tselem said. Any Palestinian who wants to pass must go through an inspection.


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