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Israeli Reservists Can’t Refuse to Serve in West Bank and Gaza Strip

From Associated Press

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that army reservists cannot refuse to serve in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, four Palestinians were killed by troops, and a fifth died under unclear circumstances, purportedly after an encounter with Israeli police.

In its ruling, the court sidestepped a decision on whether Israel’s 35-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza violates international law. Eight reservists contended that Israel’s occupation of the territories is illegal and that they therefore have the right to refuse duty there. The court ruled that reservists cannot choose their assignments.

Since the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in September 2000, more than 500 Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the West Bank and Gaza, saying they are unwilling to help perpetuate military rule over another people. Dozens of soldiers have been sent to military jails.

Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Middle East War but withdrew from Palestinian population centers as part of interim peace deals in the mid-1990s. It reoccupied most areas last June as part of an offensive against Palestinian militants who have been attacking Israelis with bombs and guns.

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The court said accepting the reservists’ demands could further deepen the rifts in Israeli society.

In violence Monday, a Palestinian was killed and three wounded in an exchange of fire with undercover Israeli forces in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in Gaza, Palestinians said. The military had no immediate comment.

In another incident, a Palestinian gunman fired at soldiers after breaking through a fence separating Israel and Gaza, the army said. Soldiers returned fire, killing the attacker, a Hamas militant who wore an Israeli army uniform and carried two assault rifles, grenades and ammunition clips, authorities said.

In a clash in the West Bank city of Nablus, soldiers killed a 20-year-old with a shot to the head. The man was lighting a protester’s firebomb when he was killed, witnesses said. Army regulations permit soldiers to shoot those holding firebombs.

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Near the West Bank town of Jenin, soldiers killed an unarmed Palestinian motorist after his car rammed a jeep parked near a checkpoint. The 37-year-old driver emerged from his car and approached the jeep, and soldiers opened fire, assuming he was trying to attack them, the army said.

In the West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinians said a 17- or 18-year-old was taken away by Israeli border police for a curfew violation and beaten, then was brought back and died. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.


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