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UN agency voices concern over Israeli collective punishment in Hebron region

Israel's policy of collective punishment in the southern West Bank came under renewed criticism Monday, in a statement released by The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The UNRWA statement expresses deep concern about the "humanitarian impact" of the closures in Hebron and its environs imposed by Israeli occupation forces, drawing particular attention to their impact on Fawwar refugee camp.

The additional restrictions on movement were imposed following attacks on Israeli settlers in the Hebron area on June 30 and July 1.

According to UNRWA, "since the beginning of the closure, the main entrance of Fawwar camp has been closed for 25 consecutive days affecting approximately 9,500 refugees in Fawwar camp."

The closure has created "serious challenges" for humanitarian access, "including the delivery of medical supplies", and has "impacted the population both socially, economically, and places an increased health risk for camp residents."

After a July 19 visit to the area, UNRWA West Bank Field Director, Scott Anderson said: "I condemn the closure as it collectively punishes the Fawwar camp residents", adding: I call upon the Israeli authorities to refrain from collectively punishing innocent people for the acts of others."

The UNRWA statement notes how "international law prohibits the imposition of collective punishment in occupied territories."

UNRWA thus "calls upon the Israeli authorities to put an end to the closures in the West Bank and to ensure unimpeded access for UNRWA staff and humanitarian assistance across the West Bank, thereby also safeguarding UNRWA's humanitarian space."

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