Israel raids on West Bank homes condemned

Reported rise in soldiers using Palestinian homes for mock raids in West Bank, as Kerry prepares to resume peace talks.

    Human rights groups have reported a rise in Israeli military training exercises being held in Palestinian towns and villages.

    Israel was condemned by the groups on Thursday, after reports of soldiers taking up positions in Palestinians homes during mock raids in the occupied West Bank and Palestinians being detained for hours without explanation.

    The criticism came as US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to arrive in the Middle East on Thursday, hoping to seal a long-elusive peace deal between Israel and Palestinians.

    Kerry left on Wednesday for his 10th tour to Israel and the West Bank aiming to hammer out a framework to guide the talks.

    After getting the two sides back to the negotiating table in 2013 following a three-year hiatus, Kerry was starting the new year with a special effort to try to move the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations forward,a senior State Department official said.

    The peace guide would provide a basis to negotiate the final peace treaty.

    Deadline looms

    "The guidelines for what the final deal would look like would be agreed upon, and then you would work intensively to fill out the details," the official said.

    Both sides have held about 20 rounds of direct talks since they resumed negotiations in July, agreeing to keep talking until the end of April.

    But the deadline is looming, and despite Israel's release on Tuesday of a third tranche of Palestinian prisoners, there have been little signs of progress amid growing pessimism Kerry's push will just join the long litany of failed US peace efforts.

    Human rights groups including Breaking The Silence said the Israeli military's exercises in the West Bank broke the law and endangered civilians.

    "I’m not sure as an Israeli would agree that somebody would do it in my street, to raid my house as part of a training," Breaking The Silence's Shai Davidovitch told Al Jazeera.

    "That’s why I think it’s wrong."

    US officials cautioned they were not expecting any breakthroughs in the peace talks on Kerry's latest trip, which comes just as Abbas threatened to take legal and diplomatic action to halt Israeli settlement building. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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