CMEP Bulletin: Search for Teens Continues as Palestinians Protest Methods
Weekly update from Churches for Middle East Peace
Israel’s West Bank Offensive Winds Down
This week the massive Israeli manhunt and campaign of arrests and interrogations directed against Hamas and its supporters in the West Bank, that some have called collective punishment, following the abduction of thee Israeli students near Hebron on June 12 began to wind down without signs of the missing students. The campaign has left six Palestinians dead, 560 arrests, home demolitions, and temporary closure of educational, media and relief institutions. Hundreds remain in prison. A travel ban on those living in Hebron now has been partly lifted. The U.N. Security Council failed to agree on a statement condemning Israel’s actions.
Abbas and Netanyahu
On Monday June 16 Palestinian Authority President Abbas initiated a conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu in which he condemned the kidnappings, as well as the Israeli’s military West Bank incursions and the earlier large scale detention of Palestinians without charges that had led to a hunger strike by as many as 300 prisoners. On June 18, while in Saudi Arabia, Abbas issued a strong statement again condemning the abductions and saying those who carried them out were hurting the Palestinian cause. He also said that should it turn out that Hamas was responsible for the kidnappings this would force him to review political cooperation between Hamas and Fatah that is planned to lead to parliamentary election. The response from Netanyahu’s office was reserved and skeptical, first accusing Abbas of posturing and then saying his words would be judged by the degree of PA cooperation in helping to recover the missing students.
This week Abbas asked Netanyahu to denounce the deaths of Palestinians shot during the Israeli West Bank offensive. “I said the kidnapping was a crime, but does that justify the killing of three Palestinian teens in cold blood?” Abbas asked, adding,”… We’re human beings, just like you. Can the Israeli government demonstrate the same feelings and say they are human beings and deserve to live? The Palestinian people are frustrated over how they are treated. As if the Israelis were human beings and the Palestinians are not. We don’t want terror and we don’t want war. We want peace.”