Link found between
curfews, attacks

By Jon Dougherty

An investigation by an Israeli media group has found that attacks against Jewish civilians have taken place within hours or days of curfews being lifted on Palestinian towns and cities, suggesting terrorists are taking advantage of lenient policy.

The investigation, conducted by The Media Line, a media group based in Israel specializing in Mideast affairs, found that when Israel Defense Force officials relaxed curfews in Palestinian areas, terrorists took advantage of the reduced scrutiny and used the opportunity to set up attacks against Israeli targets.

“There is a direct correlation between the lifting of curfews from Palestinian cities and suicide attacks emanating from those cities,” a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces told Media Line.

“The presence of IDF forces in a Palestinian city, imposing curfews and counter-terrorist activity, all prevent the exit of suicide bombers and terrorists from that city,” said the spokesman, who was unnamed in the report.

Among the most well-known examples, investigators found, were suicide bombings at Meron Junction in northern Israel, where nine people were killed; an attack at Karkur Junction, where 14 died; and a bus bombing at Jerusalem’s Pat Junction, where 19 people were killed.

Dozens of others were wounded in the attacks.

In the Pat Junction attack in Nablus, investigators said no IDF forces were in town prior to the bombing.

The Meron Junction attack in Jenin occurred Aug. 4. Investigators said that between Aug. 1 and Aug. 8, the IDF lifted the curfew daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Before the Oct. 21 attack at Karkur Junction – also in Jenin – a curfew had been imposed between Oct. 14 and Oct. 20.

A chart accompanying the report listed examples.

International human-rights groups contacted by Media Line editors refused comment on the data.

“Without referring to the data found in the research, B’Tselem stresses that even if IDF policies were effective, it would not affect their legality,” said Lior Yavne, a spokesman for B’Tselem.

“The extensive use of curfews by the IDF is illegal in itself since it constitutes collective punishment of hundreds of thousands of civilians who are not involved in attacks against Israelis,” Yavne continued. “The IDF has the duty to protect Israeli civilians, but must do so in the limits outlined by international law.”

“I can neither confirm nor deny,” said Human Rights Watch Middle East Division Director Joe Stork. “It’s something we’ve not looked into.”