An Israeli military operation to crush the occupied West Bank, killing Palestinians and detaining hundreds more after the disappearance of three Israelis has been widely condemned by the United Nations as alarming.
“The rising death toll as a result of Israeli security operations in the West Bank is alarming,” Jeffrey Feltman, UN under secretary for political affairs, was quoted as saying in a statement cited by Agence France Presse (AFP) on Monday, June 23.
“As the search for the missing youth continues, we call for restraint in carrying out the security operations in strict compliance with international law, and avoiding punishing individuals for offences they have not personally committed.”
Deeming the deaths of four Palestinians last week “alarming”, the UN urged restraint by Israelis, Palestinians amid the critical security situation.
Since the disappearance of the three teenagers earlier this month, Israeli occupation forces have been storming the West Bank, arresting hundreds of Palestinians.
Though no authority has claimed responsibility for the presumed kidnapping, Israeli media speculated the three may have been kidnapped by Hamas.
The presumed abduction of the Israeli teenagers was condemned by the Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas who said that his security will be “cooperating” with Israel to find the teenagers.
At least 361 people were detained, including 250 Hamas members and about 57 who were freed during a prisoner swap deal to release soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.
On Tuesday, June 24, the Israeli army announced the detention of more 37 Palestinians as a part of its efforts to find the kidnapped teenagers.
“Overnight, the forces detained 37 suspects and searched 80 locations, specifically in the area north west of Hebron, Beit Awwa (southwest of Hebron) and also in (the northern city of) Jenin,” an army spokeswoman said.
Abbas announcement of collaborating with Israeli forces to locate the kidnapped boys has angered Palestinians, sparking protests in Ramallah and calls for a “new intifada”.
Expectations of triggering new intifada were also shared by the former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.
“We’re not saying the intifada will start; we’re saying it has started already in the West Bank, and no one can stop it,” Haniya told journalists in Gaza.
“The enemy (Israel) cannot put a stop to the escalation of the resistance.”
According to prisoners’ rights groups, the arrested Palestinians will be held in “administrative detention”.
At least “100 administrative detention warrants have already been approved by a military judge,” revealed Addameer, a prisoners’ rights group.
“We expect that number to rise quite significantly in the coming days,” Gavan Kelly, a member of the advocacy unit at Addameer, told Al Jazeera.
“A majority were accused of being members of Hamas, and a minority from Islamic Jihad.”
The kidnapping is not the first in the occupied territories.
In 2006, Israeli army soldier Gilad Shalit was taken prisoner during a cross-border raid by Palestinian resistance groups.
Following his capture, Israel imposed a crippling siege on the Gaza Strip, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, badly affecting livelihood in the seaside enclave.
Israel also launched a three-week deadly offensive on Gaza, which left thousands of people killed and injured and destroyed thousands of houses.
Shalit was released in 2005 under a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas, under which more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were freed. On Islam