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Israel / occupied Palestinian territory
Rupert Colville for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said OHCHR were following with increasing concern the human rights situation in the context of the ongoing operations by Israeli security forces after three Israeli teenagers went missing close to the city of Hebron in the West Bank over two weeks ago, on 12 June.
The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Flavia Pansieri, met this week in Geneva with the mothers of the three missing Israelis and expressed her sincere sympathy with them. As a mother herself, she expressed her understanding of their deep anxiety about the fate of their sons, said Mr. Colville. OHCHR was concerned that the three teenagers had still not been located, after being missing for 15 days. OHCHR hoped for their immediate safe return.
OHCHR’s heartfelt sympathy also went out to the mothers and loved ones of the six Palestinians, including two teenagers, who had been killed by Israeli forces, in addition to the many others who had been injured, during these past two weeks, Mr. Colville said.
OHCHR was alarmed about the loss of life, and the sharp increase in tension in the occupied West Bank, especially in and around Hebron, as a result of the Israeli operations. It called for prompt and thorough investigations, and prosecution of the perpetrators in cases where there had been excessive use of force. Since 12 June, around 500 Palestinians had reportedly been detained, hundreds of homes searched; media offices, universities and welfare organizations had been raided; at least 13 Palestinian structures had been demolished and several water cisterns had reportedly been drained or damaged. OHCHR was also concerned about reports of damage to property and theft during those operations, especially house-to-house searches, and their traumatic effect on children and families.
OHCHR reiterated its call for strict adherence to international law by all relevant actors and joined others in their call for restraint, concluded Mr. Colville.
Answering a question as to whether OHCHR found the Israeli actions to be disproportionate or a form of collective punishment, Mr. Colville quoted Jeffrey Feltman, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, who said very clearly that the Israelis should avoid punishing people for offences they had not personally committed. So yes, there seemed to be a very excessive reaction, said Mr. Colville. Clearly those boys needed to be found and that was totally understandable, he continued, but the scale of the operations and the number of the people they were affecting was deeply disturbing.