JERUSALEM — The Israeli military demolished or sealed several houses and rounded up 49 people in the occupied West Bank in a crackdown on Palestinians accused of attacking Israeli soldiers and suspected Arab collaborators, the army said Tuesday.
Soldiers began the demolitions and sealings--a policy widely condemned outside Israel--late Monday, an army spokesman said.
The army said two houses were sealed in the village of Es Samu, south of the town of Hebron, and one house was destroyed in the nearby village of Beit Ummar.
It said Palestinians living in the houses were part of a strike force that attacked alleged Arab collaborators. They also threw stones and firebombs at army patrols and set up roadblocks on a highway near the village, the army said.
The other house sealed was in the Askar refugee camp near Nablus. The army said Palestinians tried to throw building blocks on soldiers from the home's roof two months ago.
Arab reports said four houses were also sealed during an arrest sweep in which 49 suspects were arrested in Nablus, the West Bank's largest city. The army refused to confirm those sealings but acknowledged the arrests.
The military imposed curfews Tuesday in Nablus, two adjacent refugee camps and the Tulkarm refugee camp, Palestinian sources said.
The United States and human rights organizations have condemned house demolitions, saying they deny people due process under the law since suspects rarely are tried before the demolitions.
The West Bank human rights group Law in the Service of Man said the army has destroyed or sealed more than 330 houses in the West Bank and 58 in the Gaza Strip since the December, 1987, start of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of the territories.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders in the occupied Gaza Strip on Tuesday asked U.S. Ambassador William Brown to urge the United States to step up its Middle East peace efforts.
Arabs in Gaza met with Brown as he made his first trip to the territory since he became ambassador in December.
U.S. Embassy officials described Brown's visit as "an orientation trip" but gave no details. Brown declined to talk with reporters.