Rights group calls for monitoring of mass Awarta arrests 12Apr11 April 13, 2011

Ma’an News Agency -  12 April 2011

The Ramallah-based rights group Addameer issued a call Sunday for international observation and intervention over the mass arrest campaigns by Israeli forces in Awarta.

A further nine men and women were detained Sunday morning, the fifth of a series of arrest raids in the West Bank village, which have rounded up between 600-700 residents since March 11, when five settlers were murdered in their beds, including two children and an infant.

Israel’s investigation of the killings appears to be centered on Awarta residents, though no suspects have been identified and the case remains under gag-order.

The arrests took place “despite the fact that no evidence has been brought forth to indicate that the murders are related to Awarta, suggesting a campaign of collective punishment against the village,” Addameer said in a statement.

The statement said 55 villagers remain in detention, are being held without charge, and include two under the age of 18.

“The arrest procedures also raised serious concerns,” the organization said, citing reports of detention of the elderly, sick and pregnant, saying they were “unlikely candidates for the brutal murders.”

Addameer said it was concerned that “no female soldiers were present and no arrest warrants were presented during the arrest operation,” adding that home-to-home searches lasted up to three hours, and residents were harassed by masked soldiers who used sniffer dogs to search homes, terrorizing families.

“The women’s treatment at the Huwwara Detention Center fell short of basic requirements of international law,” the center said further, stating that many residents were arrested in their night gowns, were held in barracks used as military sleeping quarters, and were interrogated repeatedly.

“They were then asked to sign a 2-page statement in Hebrew, a language they do not understand, and threatened with prolonged detention if they chose not to sign it,” the organization said, adding that no lawyers were present for the duration.

In response to the violations cited by the organization, they asked that international observers be installed in the village to monitor the situation in Awarta.

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