Israel continues applying collective punishment as a village, home to Palestinian assailants, was blockaded and EU-funded homes were demolished despite EU calls, escalating the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians
The Israeli army blockaded a village in the northern West Bank on Thursday that it said was home to Palestinian assailants who carried out a deadly attack in Jerusalem, officials said. Three men from Qabatiya, near Jenin, on Wednesday attacked police with guns and knives outside Jerusalem's Old City, killing a female officer and wounding another before being shot dead. They were found to be in possession of explosive devices, police said. "There's no doubt that the intention of a terrorist cell with such an arsenal of weapons was to carry out a mass attack," Israel police commissioner Roni Alsheich said on Wednesday.
Israel's arbitrary treatment of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank continues. Israeli security forces destroyed 24 Palestinian buildings in Khirbet Jenbah south of Hebron in the West Bank including 10 funded by the E.U., residents said. According to Israeli officials the buildings were "illegal."
A High Court injunction later in the day ordered a halt to all demolitions until at least Feb. 9. The residents of the region had been undergoing a process of arbitration with Israeli authorities after a High Court ruling, Sarit Michaeli from the B'Tselem NGO said. The EU called on Israel to change its policies in the occupied West Bank. "The EU expects its investments in support of the Palestinian people to be protected from damage and destruction," said a spokesman, who condemned the demolitions. The residents of the region had been undergoing a process of arbitration with Israeli authorities after a High Court ruling, Michaeli said. However talks broke down in recent days. "This basically means we are back to square one. The government wants to remove them. The residents object," Michaeli said. Israel has carried out a long campaign to relocate the residents of the area, which was declared a military zone by the Israeli government in the 1970s.
In January, Israel declared 370 acres in the West Bank south of Jericho to be state land. Today, some 380,000 Israelis live in 135 West Bank settlements, with another 200,000 in east Jerusalem. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements in occupied land "provocative" and said that it raises questions about its commitment to a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Ban's remarks on Israeli settlements. "The U.N. lost its neutrality and moral force a long time ago and the secretary-general's remarks do not improve the situation. The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state, they want to destroy a state," Netanyahu said.
More than 160 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli security forces during protests or alleged attacks since last October while 30 Israeli and foreigners killed.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state, a move never recognized by the international community. Palestinians, for their part, continue to demand the establishment of an independent state on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with East Jerusalem, currently occupied by Israel, as its capital.
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