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The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) says it has recently encountered three cases of soldiers threatening to blow up the homes of families if their fugitive relatives - usually sons - are not turned in.

ACRI has asked the attorney general to put an end to the practice, which violates Israeli and international law. ACRI lawyers say they believe the threats are initiatives by the soldiers, not handed down as orders.

Palestinian sources told Ha'aretz that IDF soldiers threatened a wanted man's family in the Ramin village that if they did not turn in their fugitive son within two days, the army would blow up their home. The warning went to the family of Akrame Thabet, wanted as a suspected accomplice in the murder of two Tel Aviv restaurateurs in January 2001.

Thabet was allegedly involved in the murder in revenge for the killing of his relative, Dr. Thabet Thabet, a senior Fatah official in Tul Karm, by an Israeli army sniper early in the intifada. Thabet was the first of the assassinations under the IDF's "preventive defense" policy.

A number of International Solidarity Movement volunteers are inside a Balata refugee camp house where such threats have been made. ACRI lawyers Dan Yakir and Manuel Hazan told the state attorney, and the army's legal advisor in the West Bank, that such threats constitute violations of both international and Israeli law. They also appealed directly to Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein on the issue. The army's spokesman did not have a response by press time.