The IDF says it is curbing its controversial nightly raids on Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank that were carried out in order to gather information on the homes and their inhabitants.
In the past, the military has defended this practice, known as “intelligence mapping”, as a necessary measure to counter militant groups. But human rights groups say the policy has only served to intimidate civilians. of the night to document the dimensions and inhabitants of dwellings in occupied territory.
Rights groups said the raids, carried out into homes where no one was suspected of illegal activity, served no strategic purpose and caused profound psychological trauma.
The policy change came six months after Yesh Din, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, and Breaking the Silence, three Israeli activist groups, released a report on what they described as “arbitrary invasions” of homes. Palestinian private homes.
They said the practice “effectively serves as a means to oppress and intimidate the Palestinian people and to increase their control over them.” Israel captured the West Bank in the Middle East War in 1967. While the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority (PA) administers self-governing areas within the territory, Israel retains overall control and frequently conducts military raids even in areas under Palestinian control.
Today, nearly 3 million Palestinians live in the occupied West Bank, according to official Palestinian figures, alongside nearly half a million Israeli settlers.
The Palestinians want the entire West Bank to be the heart of an independent state, along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Israel says the West Bank is contested territory whose fate must be resolved through negotiations. Most members of the international community consider the occupied West Bank territory and Israeli settlements to be illegal and constitute obstacles to peace.
In a letter to Yesh Din on Tuesday, the military said its raids “were not random operations” and were “intended for operational intelligence purposes”. He said there were strict guidelines for such operations “to minimize damage and disruption to residents’ quality of life.”
Nonetheless, he said the raids would be halted “except in exceptional circumstances”.
The IDF confirmed the policy change but did not immediately respond to requests for further comment. Yesh Din executive director Lior Amihai called the military’s decision “very important.”
“Home invasions are inherent in the apartheid regime in place in the West Bank and we will continue to denounce and challenge this practice and others until human rights are respected for all,” he said. .
Breaking the Silence executive director Avner Gvaryahu said this was an “important outcome” of the groups report, “but fundamentally it will not end the occupation or do any harm. to the Palestinians ”.
The announcement came less than a month after widespread unrest in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israeli towns during the 11-day war in May between the Israeli military and the Gaza ruler’s Hamas. The conflict erupted after days of Israeli aggression against Palestinians in the occupied territories as well as the forced eviction of families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Israel has launched an offensive campaign against the Gaza Strip, killing more than 250 people, including children and women, and injuring nearly 2,000. Thousands of Palestinians have left homeless and hundreds of buildings have been destroyed.
Following Tuesday’s far-right march by right-wing Israelis, 17 people were injured and 33 were arrested by Israeli forces. Tel Aviv also launched an air raid on Gaza on Wednesday, breaking a ceasefire agreement brokered by the Egyptians.