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NGO: Israel collectively punishing 40,000 Palestinians

Israeli forces take security measures at the scene of a shooting that left three Israeli security forces and one Palestinian dead on 26 September 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli authorities imposed collective punishment on 40,000 Palestinians immediately after an attack on an illegal Israeli settlement that left three Israeli soldiers dead, a NGO B'Tselem said in a press release.

"Immediately following the attack, the military implemented punitive measures against the residents of nine villages in the area of Beit Surik, northwest of Jerusalem, totaling about 40,000 people," the release said.

The military's actions included raids on villages and homes, damaging property in some cases, scores of arrests, as well as movement restrictions.

It continued: "In Beit Surik itself, the military sealed off all entries and exits. Soldiers took over seven rooftops in the village, having turned the residents out, and raided many other homes, conducting searches, leaving havoc behind in some cases."

"Soldiers also carried out patrols in the village, which attracted stone throwing on the part of local residents. The soldiers responded with live bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets and gas grenades. These incidents led to the schools shutting down."

Read: Israeli soldiers subject Palestinian school kids to intrusive searches

"In addition, five demolition orders and 15 stop-work orders were issued, all under the pretext of 'illegal construction', and soldiers confiscated some 30 cars."

Israeli soldiers also "raided the village of Bidu, and there too, clashes including stone-throwing erupted, with the soldiers responding with rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas and stun grenades."

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"School was cancelled in Bidu as well, as a result of these incidents. Soldiers took over eight rooftops in the village, having turned out the residents, and confiscated 25 vehicles."

The press release also said that "the military set up a manned roadblock near the village, with soldiers denying passage to anyone under 40, and anyone who is not a resident of the village."

"A similar roadblock was set up near the entrance to Beit 'Anan, and other side roads, used by the residents when the main entrances are blocked, were also blocked with dirt mounds."

According to the press release, "on the day of the attack, and the day after, [Israeli] forces arrived at Jamal's home [the house of the alleged attacker], interrogated family members and arrested his two brothers."

The release also said that the Israeli soldiers "surveyed the house in preparation for demolition, and revoked all family members' permits to enter Israel for work."

Concluding its press release, B'Tselem said:

Disrupting the lives of tens of thousands of people, who have done nothing wrong and are not suspected of any wronging in such a severe manner is completely unjustifiable.

"This violence against the population is an exploitation of the military's power and authority in aid of wanton abuse of civilians without any accountability."

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