JERUSALEM — The Israeli military claims to be curtailing a contentious practice of conducting late-night raids on Palestinian homes in the West Bank in order to acquire information on the homes and their occupants.
The military has previously justified the technique, known as “intelligence mapping,” as an essential counter-terrorism tool. Human rights organizations, on the other hand, claim that the strategy merely helped to frighten citizens.
Soldiers would wake up households in the middle of the night to take measurements and count the number of people living in their homes in the seized zone. According to human rights organizations, the raids, which were carried out in houses where no one was suspected of criminal activity, had no strategic purpose and resulted in severe psychological damage.
The policy shift occurred half a year after three Israeli activist groups, Yesh Din, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, and Breaking the Silence, issued a report on what they called “arbitrary intrusions” of private Palestinian houses. They said that the practice “essentially functions as a method to oppress, intimidate, and increase control over the Palestinian community.”
During the 1967 Middle East conflict, Israel took control of the West Bank. While the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority administers autonomous zones inside the region, Israel maintains overall control and conducts military operations on Palestinian-controlled regions on a regular basis.
According to official Palestinian estimates, approximately 3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank today, alongside almost half a million Israeli settlers.
The Palestinians want the whole West Bank, as well as the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, to be the center of an independent state. The West Bank, according to Israel, is a contested territory whose status should be decided via talks. The majority of the international world views the occupied West Bank and Israeli settlements as illegitimate and impediments to peace.
The army started their raids “weren’t random actions” and were “planned for an operational-intelligence objective” in a letter to Yesh Din on Tuesday. It stated that such activities were subject to rigorous rules “in order to limit the harm and disruption to the residents’ quality of life.”
Nonetheless, the raids would be suspended “except in extreme circumstances,” according to the statement.
The Israeli military acknowledged the decision, stating that any future cases will only be carried out under the supervision of senior authorities.
The military’s decision, according to Yesh Din executive director Lior Amihai, is “extremely significant.”
The report’s “important conclusion,” according to Breaking the Silence Executive Director Avner Gvaryahu, “but essentially this is not going to bring an end to the occupation or (stop) suffering to Palestinians.”
The declaration comes less than a month after significant rioting in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israeli towns during the 11-day Gaza Strip conflict between Israel and Hamas terrorists. Following weeks of rising tensions and deadly clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators in the disputed city of Jerusalem, the violence escalated when Hamas launched rockets toward Israeli towns.