Settlers’ violation continue unabated inside Hebron’ old city

Settlers’ violation continue unabated inside Hebron’ old city
Photo 1: Hebron’s old city closure map
The city of Hebron dates back to the early bronze age about 3500 BC when Tel Arumaida was built by the Arab tribes of Amorites and it has been continuously inhabited ever since. The city is located 34 km south of Jerusalem and, currently, it is the second largest city in the West Bank after Nablus with a total municipal borders of  50.15 and a population of about 200 000. Its elevation  ranges from 930M to 1027M.
The city was divided into Hebron 1 and Hebron 2 ( HI & H2) by the Hebron protocol agreement that was signed on January 7th, 1997 between Israel and the PLO. According to this agreement, about 20% of the total area of Hebron city, including the whole of the old city and the Ibrahimi mosque,  remained under Israeli security and civic affairs while the remaining 80% became under the Palestinian security and civic affairs, although, after the Israeli military re-occupation of all zone A in the West Bank in April 2002 the whole city falls now under the Israeli security affairs. In H2 there are between 400 -600 Israeli settlers living in four colonial posts protected by 2000 Israeli soldiers amidst 45,000 Palestinians. The settlers enjoy a network of roads banned for Palestinian use inside the city.
A city broken by barricades:
As part of its ongoing policy of closure, cantonization  and imprisonment, the Israeli occupation authorities have introduced more than 120 forms of closures inside H2 for the purpose of protecting the settlers, including, amongst others, road blocks, earth mounds and permanent checkpoint. These closures cripple the Palestinian movement within the areas of H2, on one hand, and, between H2 and the outside worlds, on the other hand.

Photo 2: Arab Knesset member Mohammed Baraka at one of
the checkpoints inside Hebron’s old city
ICRC’s head –Hebron office- talks:
 In an interview with Al Quds newspaper on 26 July, 2009, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Hebron branch, Mr. Mathew Binati expressed his concern about the settlers acts against the Palestinian population in the city and about ongoing Israeli harsh restrictions on movement inside the city. Mr. Binati went on to say that the strict Israeli measures on movement represented by the many checkpoints, road blocks and prevention of the use of cars on many roads have made the live of Palestinians inside the city unbearable. Most often, hundreds of families are obliged to pass through checkpoints to buy food and on their way they face threats on their lives by settlers present at checkpoints and roads.  Palestinian women are the favorite targets of these settler groups, Mr. Binati added, as they are not allowed, like men,  to drive cars on roads connecting between their living quarters and markets. The only way is to walk on foot and pass through checkpoints to reach the market place ( Suq) and come back carrying heavy stuff and all through they have to encounter the physical and verbal abuses of the Israeli settlers. Even ambulances face long delays by Israeli soldiers manning these checkpoints which harms the lives of sick people in need of immediate help, Mr. Binati elaborated.
Photo 3: an Israeli army checkpoint in Hebron’s old city
Bad economic situation
Talking about the economic life in H2 it is partially dead due to economic recession caused by movement restrictions and settlers’ violence as Mr. Binati said. Some shop owners received closure orders from the Israeli military for security pretexts, while others have lost their clients because of the prevailing tension in the Suq which is located in the vicinity of the four colonial posts in the heart of the city. This situation, in turn, has led to poverty being increased to un-precedent levels as shown in a study conducted by the ICRC last summer where 86% of families live in relative poverty (monthly income per person doesn’t exceed 97 US $ per month).
Photo 4: a Palestinian child looking at an Israeli army patrol inside Hebron’s
old city where closed shops can be seen
Mr. Bitani added that most families who live inside the old city had their home windows provided with a special netting to stand against stones, empty bottles garbage and dirt water thrown by settlers freely roaming the area. Even, school children are under attack and are scared to go out of their homes in to their schools. It has become increasingly difficult for Palestinian families to stay to live under this continuously tense circumstances and horrible conditions, Mr. Bitani concluded.
Threats to put the city on fire
In related development, the Israeli settlers threatened to set the whole city on fire if the Israeli army was determined to re-open the Jaber quarter road for Palestinian traffic which has been closed since nine years. In fact, this road connects the Ibrahimi mosque with the colony of Kiriayt Arba’ at the eastern edge of the old city. It, also, connects between the Palestinian quarters of the old city. Since nine years it has been used by Israeli vehicles only. A high ranking settler figure told some Israeli internet web sites that the whole city would be set on fire if that road was re-opened.
Photo 5: The closed Jaber quarter’s road inside the old city
Last April, the Israeli occupation authorities distributed a military order claiming that the road would be re-opened to facilitate the Palestinian movement. The order asked Palestinian residents of that particular area to get their cars registered with the Israeli DCO as condition to get them passing permissions. So far, nothing has been done in this regards. On the contrary, soldiers manning the checkpoint at the beginning of Jaber quarter’s road have increased their mal treatment of Palestinian citizens.
Photo 6: A group of young settlers roaming in the old city streets
Jaber quarter is named by the Israeli settlers ‘ Zion axis ‘ and it expands from Kiriayt Arba’ colony until the Ibrahimi mosque in the centre of the city.
Related case studies:
1.     Setting up of a Jewish Hanukah at the top of at Takruri mountain Hebron’s city, Hebron District, January, 2009;
2.     Israeli settlers seize four commercial shops inside the Old City of Hebron, Hebron District, April, 2009.


Categories: Settlers Attacks