Palestinians asked the United Nations for assistance in halting Israel’s week-long campaign of arrests and airstrikes following the suspected kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also communicated with the UN, telling Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon he opposes efforts to help Hamas receive money from Qatar to pay its employees in the Gaza Strip. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman wants to expel UN envoy Robert Serry, Ban’s Middle East envoy from Israel over efforts to transfer $20 million to Hamas from Qatar, Channel 2 television reported, without saying where it got the information.
Serry, in a statement, rejected the allegations about the Qatari money. He said it was “disheartening” to have his integrity challenged.
“We view Serry’s behavior very severely,” ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, without addressing the content of the TV report. “Strong decisions will be called for.”
Israeli forces continued raids in the West Bank early yesterday, entering 146 homes and arresting 10 members of the Hamas movement, according to an army spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity, required by military rules. Troops also shut down 15 social-welfare organizations that Israel says are being used as fronts for Hamas, which Netanyahu has accused of kidnapping the youths.
“The international community, including the Security Council, cannot continue to fail to act to hold Israel accountable for its flagrant breaches of the law,” Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour wrote in a letter to Ban that was e-mailed to reporters yesterday. Inaction by the UN has only emboldened Israel and “bolstered its impunity,” according to the letter.
Hamas, which agreed this month to resolve a seven-year rift with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by supporting a joint government, is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and European Union.
Netanyahu’s office said in a text message that the prime minister spoke with Ban during the weekend and told him Israel had clear evidence that Hamas was responsible for the kidnappings. He also said the government opposes the transfer of funds from Qatar to Hamas.
The UN responded in a statement that Serry “was approached by the Palestinian Authority if he could be of assistance in the issue of payment of salaries in the Gaza Strip.” It said the UN “would only act in assisting this matter with the approval of all the stakeholders in this issue, including Israel.”
Israeli authorities, including the defense ministry unit responsible for administrative dealings with Gaza, were kept fully informed on this matter, the UN said.
Yaakov Perry, the former chief of the Shin-Bet security agency who sits in Netanyahu’s cabinet as science minister, told Israel Radio that the army’s actions were “measured, calculated, well-planned and done properly.”
Abbas will travel to Russia this week for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said June 20. Peace talks brokered by the U.S. ended in April after eight months.
Mansour’s letter also seeks UN condemnation of Israel’s move to hold hundreds of Palestinian prisoners without trial under “administrative detention.”
The letter protested proposed legislation that would allow Israel to sedate hunger strikers and feed them, which it said was “tantamount to torture” and “in complete contravention of international standards.”
The latest raids raised to 340 the number of suspects arrested since the teenagers disappeared June 12 while hitchhiking in the West Bank, the army said yesterday. It has searched about 1,300 sites.
Hamas, which held an Israeli soldier for five years before trading him in 2011 for more than 1,000 imprisoned Palestinians, has advocated kidnappings as a means to free Palestinian prisoners, whose number currently tops 5,000, according to the prisons service.