Qabatiya Subject to Closure & Collective Punishment by IOF

Thursday, 11 February 2016 12:18 - [1-7 February] - Ref.: 10/2016
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Qabatiya.2016On 3 February 2016, three Palestinians, Ahmad Najeh Zakarneh, 20, Muhammad Ahmad Kamil, 21, and Ahmad Najeh Abu Al-Rub, 20, were killed by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) in Jerusalem. The three young men, all from Qabatiya, south Jenin, had carried out an attack against the IOF near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem and were immediately shot and killed.

At approximately 2:00 am on 4 February, the IOF began a military operation against Qabatiya and imposed a military closure that lasted until 8:00 pm Saturday 6 February. Israeli bulldozers closed down the entrances of Qabatiya, including main and bypass roads, by setting up sand barriers and checkpoints. Additionally, the IOF raided the homes of the three young men, interrogated the parents of the men, and measured the three homes for demolition. Other houses were also raided in different neighbourhoods of Qabatiya and at least 15 Palestinians were arrested from the area. Confrontations errupted between the IOF and residents of the town throughout the three-day closure, resulting in the injury of at least 20 Palestinians by live and rubber bullets.

Based on Al-Haq's field investigations, on 7 February the IOF prohibited Palestinian residents of Qabatiya working within the Green Line from crossing Al-Jalama checkpoint on their way to work that morning. There are approximately 250 residents of Qabatiya working within the Green Line, in addition to about 750 Palestinian merchants. Workers from Qabatiya who tried to pass through Al-Taybe crossing, west of Tulkarem, faced the same problem. This incident recurred on 8 and 9 February. Mustafa Muhammad Assaf is a 54-year-old resident of Qabatiya, Jenin. He has a permit and crosses Al-Jalama checkpoint daily to work within the Green Line:

"On Sunday 7 February at approximately 5:00 am, myself and about 250 other workers (who hold similar permits) arrived at Al-Jalama checkpoint. By 5:30 am, the gates opened and we heard someone calling through the speakers that "workers from Qabatiya should return because they are prohibited from passing. Whoever violates this and enters the crossing endangers himself." This call was repeated several times in Arabic. We returned home. The same thing happened to us the following two days. When I am not allowed to reach my workplace, they are therefore denying me and my family from our only source of income. The same goes for the other workers. Further, our employers are currently looking for other workers to replace us since we cannot reach our workplace." Al-Haq affidavit no. 79/2016 taken on 9 February 2016

For three days, the 30,500 Palestinian residents of Qabatiya were cut off from the rest of the OPT. The closure of Qabatiya, and subsequent limitations on movement and access targeting workers, is representative of Israel's policy of collective punishment against Palestinians in the OPT. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits all forms of collective punishment and measures of intimidation against protected people. Under international humanitarian law, Israel has an obligation to ensure the respect for and protection of the Palestinian population.

Israel’s actions are also in violation of its obligations under international human rights law, including the right to freedom of movement which is upheld in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Palestinians' right to work and adequate standard of living as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights were also violated. Furthermore, Israel's practice of raiding Palestinian areas and homes threatens the safety and security of the occupied population and is in violation of Article 17 of the ICCPR which guarantees the right to be protected against such arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, or home. Also, Article 9 of the ICCPR states that every individual has the right to liberty and security of person and that no one should be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention. 

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