Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Since the 1st of November 2015 the Tel Rumeida area and Shuhada Street in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron) has been declared a ‘closed military zone’. The first declaration of the closure was for one month, but since then the order has been extended several times.
The newest order from the 1st of February declares the area as closed till the 1st of March with the chance of extension.
Shuhada Checkpoint (Checkpoint 56)
The closure effects the residents of the area every single day. Every family living in the area has been given a number and was forced to register with the Israeli forces. When entering the area, through checkpoints, the residents have to show ID, give their number and often also answer questions and get bag and body searched. Friends and family of the residents are unable to visit them inside the area; even doctors or craftsmen are completely barred from entering the area.
Furthermore, the closed military zone has led to the eviction of two human rights organisations based in Tel Rumeida. These are now banned from living in their houses and working from their offices and since they are banned from the whole area are not able to observe and document the rampant Israeli human rights violations. The ‘closed military zone’ clearly intends to evict Palestinian residents in order to allow for an expansion of the illegal Israeli settlements, and by evicting human rights defenders to silence the truth on the Israeli forces harassment, attacks and human rights violations.
Ongoing colonization in Hebron: Israeli forces prepare the illegal invasion of Palestinian houses by Israeli settlers
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On February 3rd 2016, Israeli occupation forces violently opened the door of houses in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi mosque by cutting the door locks with a disk grinder, and then entered these houses.
The houses are located in al-Sahla Street near the Ibrahimi mosque, settlers illegally invaded and occupied them two weeks ago, but were then evicted by the police and army the next morning.
After the Israeli army removed the door-locks of the two houses, Israeli construction workers took the external an internal dimensions of both Palestinian properties as if they are already owned by Israeli settlers. The settlers were protected during their illegal activities by large groups of soldiers.
Palestinian residents who walked trough the checkpoint in front of these houses were body-checked and harassed by the soldiers. The video below illustrates how inhumande and degrading these body-searches and ID-checks are, with soldiers ordering Palestinians to take off clothing regardless of weather and treating them without even a slight bit of dignity.
Israeli forces blocking the entrance to the Palestinian market
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On Saturday, 30th January 2016, large groups of settlers, accompanied by heavily-armed soldiers, entered the Palestinian market at night and took it over for about an hour during night-time in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron).
Around 9:30 pm, Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements throughout al-Khalil gathered at Bab al-Baladiyya, from where they walked into the Palestinian souq, the market, surrounded by heavily-armed Israeli forces. The group of more than 50 settlers started a ‘tour’ of the Palestinian market, with Israeli forces ‘guarding’ them throughout the Palestinian market. Palestinian residents were not allowed to pass and forced to wait at a distance, with soldiers repeatedly pointing the lasers from their guns at them to indicate they have to stop. A walk home at night though, for some Palestinians took almost an hour, instead of the usual 10 minutes.
This kind of ‘settler tour’ through the Palestinian market used to take place regularly on Saturday afternoons. During the ‘tour’ Palestinians are often denied to pass, stopped, ID-checked and detained. In the recent months, no ‘settler tours’ took place, but last week they started again with a nightly-tour at 11pm. For the Palestinian residents of the souq, these tours have become a regular form of intimidation and harassment in the past.
The worst worries of a child’s school day should be homework. Maybe a lost book, or an argument with a friend. No child’s walk to school should routinely involve armed soldiers and fear of sometimes being chased and assaulted by angry adults. But for the Palestinian children who live with their families in the small rural villages that make up the South Hebron Hills, this is how the school day begins. Illegal settlements and outposts isolate and separate their villages and soldiers are a constant in their lives.
Once, the trip from the tiny hamlet of Tuba to the school in the village of Tuwani was a calm and beautiful walk along a quiet road connecting the two villages. During the 1980s Israeli settlers built a settlement on privately owned Palestinian land, which had been used to graze sheep and goats. Following construction of the settlement, the settlers established an illegal outpost. Now, industrial chicken barns sit astride the road that once served children walking to school, farmers taking livestock to town, and families traveling to Tuwani, or the larger town of Yatta for health care, shopping, and higher education.
Between the settlement and the outpost, what remains of the road is closed to Palestinians. With one exception – children walk behind an Israeli military jeep to reach their school. Their parents are not allowed to walk with them.
The twenty or so children who make this trip start their school day in an unprotected field, anxiously waiting for the Israeli soldiers who will oversee their walk to school. Villagers had built shelters in which the children could await the soldiers, but Israeli authorities have dismantled every shelter. If it is raining, the children get soaked. Some days the soldiers are the same soldiers who chased or arrested shepherds the day before – shepherds who may be the brothers or fathers of these children. Some days the soldiers are late, leaving the group of children waiting, vulnerable to attack and within easy reach of the outpost. Some days the military escort does not arrive at all, and the children make the trip to school with international volunteers along a longer path, which also lies alongside the settlement.
About 1,000 people live in the neighboring villages, an estimated half of whom are children. Nevertheless, because the villages lie inside of Israeli Firing Zone 918, the military uses the land for military training.
Amazingly, despite all of this, it is almost unheard of for children to miss a day of school. Parents are determined that their children will be educated. When I began volunteering in Tuwani, the school reached only to third grade. Now thanks to the community’s determination to provide their children with education, students can complete high school in the village, and although facing a continued threat of demolition by Israeli military bulldozers, villagers have built and staffed primary schools for children who live in 8 nearby villages.
This is what nonviolent resistance to military occupation looks like.
I’m grateful that I can spend a portion of this year in Palestine. For many years children in these villages have taught me about nonviolence. Sometimes, the presence of international human rights workers holding cameras has some small positive effect on their days.
U.S. people bear some responsibility for the interruption of their childhoods. The U. S. subsidizes about 25% of Israel’s military budget, at a cost to U.S. taxpayers conservatively estimated at $3.1 billion a year.
I’m working with the Italian organization Operation Dove.
They support Palestinians who resist the Israeli occupation, standing with families in their commitment to remain on their land. This includes accompanying school children and farm families as they walk to school, graze their animals and tend their crops. Operation Dove helps document the harassment, intimidation, arrests, detentions, home demolitions, checkpoints, road closures, military training exercises, and settler attacks. Villagers also report to Operation Dove when they endure theft and when their crops and property are destroyed.
Protective presence provided by activists is not a large-scale solution to the violence that intrudes into childrens’ lives in Palestine. But many years of visits with these families persuades me that it’s important and necessary to support and participate in the villagers’ nonviolent efforts. Families that confront militarism and occupation help us move beyond our addiction to militarism and violence.
The children I met early on are grown now. Some have gone on to college, and some have families of their own. These young people have every reason to be angry. Their childhoods included fear, intimidation, demolitions, arrests and isolation. But they have also grown up witnessing their community’s steadfast commitment to nonviolently resist injustice. Their families have supported them well, including them in the community’s struggle for dignity. Against all odds they are growing up with humor and tenacity instead of anger and bitterness. They are living proof to the rest of us that love wins.
*Author’s Note: This little girl was injured by two masked settlers who attacked her with stones as she gathered herbs with a friend on the path between Tuba and Tuwani. She and her siblings make the same trip on foot each school day. She is an amazingly smart and tough young girl — insistent that the many odd volunteers that pass through her life should learn her name and visit her family’s home. She needed four stitches in a head wound after the attack.
Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces detained Hatim Qafisha, a Hamas-affiliated member of the PLO’s Palestinian Legislative Council, from his home. (MaanImages)
HEBRON – Israeli forces detained at least six Palestinians, including a Palestinian lawmaker and a former Palestinian Authority minister, from their homes in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron overnight Sunday, Palestinian and Israeli sources told Ma’an.
Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces detained Hatim Qafisha, a Hamas-affiliated member of the PLO’s Palestinian Legislative Council, from his home in the Wadi al-Hariyya neighborhood of Hebron city.
Security sources added that unidentified assailants set fire to Qafisha’s private vehicle after he had been detained and Israeli forces had left the area.
Israeli forces also raided the Nimra neighborhood around dawn and detained Issa al-Jaabari, who served as the PA’s Minister of Local Governance in 2006.
Sources said Israeli forces blew the front doors off of al-Jaabari’s home before raiding the dwelling and detaining the former minister.
Furthermore, Israeli forces carried out a predawn raids in the al-Sheikh neighborhood of Hebron city and detained a former prisoner identified as Ibrahim Jamil Hassan after ransacking his home, along with several others in the neighborhood.
An Israeli army spokesperson did not confirm specific detentions, but said Israeli forces detained four Palestinians in Hebron city, all of which were reportedly detained for being “Hamas operatives.” The spokesperson added that two more Palestinians were detained in areas north and west of the city.
Al-Khalil, Occupied Palestine – At the end of December Israeli forces re-opened the newly expanded Shuhada checkpoint in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). The checkpoint had been closed since December 7th, when Israeli forces had declared they would be conducting “renovations” for a then-unknown period of time.
Officially known as Checkpoint 56, Shuhada checkpoint separates Bab al-Zawiye, a Palestinian neighborhood in the H1 (nominally Palestinian-controlled and administered) part of al-Khalil and Tel Rumeida, part of Israeli military-controlled H2 and currently covered in part by a closed military zone order first issued on November 1st.
The checkpoint was rebuilt with a high fence blocking the entire street and additional turnstiles and metal detectors. The turnstiles make it very difficult for anyone carrying heavy, bulky luggage or even several bags of groceries to pass. Israeli authorities also added a completely closed off room in the center of the checkpoint, where Palestinians are questioned and searched entirely out of site of any onlookers, media, or human rights monitors.
As in previous versions of the checkpoint, there is no possibility for any car or truck – even an ambulance responding to an emergency – to pass; any vehicle larger than a baby carriage must take a time-consuming detour in order to enter or leave Tel Rumeida.
The new checkpoint has already become a flashpoint for Israeli military aggression against Palestinians, which includes the arrest of 38-year-old Wafa’ Sharabati on Monday afternoon by Israeli forces who first claimed she had a discrepancy in her ID then accused her of being a troublemaker and threatened to plant a knife on her. Wafa’s family and local activists staged a sit-in outside Shuhada checkpoint to protest her treatment and the continued humiliation and harassment faced by Palestinians forced to endure the checkpoint and the closed military zone.
A sign on the H1 side of the checkpoint explains the protocols for passing through: metal detector, bag search, no animals allowed through, checkpoint closed if there are any clashes. The 4th instruction reads “wait until the soldier will allow you to pass.” Sometimes people can pass in six minutes; sometimes they must wait for over an hour, outside and exposed to any weather, before being allowed to pass the few meters of turnstiles, metal detectors, fences and walls between them and the streets leading to their homes.
Lines on Monday evening left many, including young children, waiting for nearly half an hour in the cold night. Only Palestinians who are registered in the closed military zone can ever pass through the checkpoint; family members of residents, journalists, human rights defenders and internationals have all been barred. Even Palestinians who are registered have reported being forced to wait for over an hour only to be harassed and threatened by the soldiers inside the checkpoint.
Activists have planned another protest for Thursday morning to continue the struggle against the closed military zone, the even harsher regime at the newly reopened checkpoint, and the continued closure and Israeli military occupation of al-Khalil.
HEBRON – A Palestinian father living in Hebron’s Old City told Ma’an that his 7-year-old daughter was injured while being chased by notorious Israeli extremist Baruch Marzel on Monday.
Raed Abu Irmeileh said that he had to take his daughter, Dana, to the Hebron Governmental Hospital “after she had fallen to the ground while being chased by Baruch Marzel near the Ibrahimi mosque.”
Irmeileh told Ma’an that Israeli forces present in the area did not stop Marzel from chasing his children, and assaulted his 10-year-old son Hutasem as well as two brothers Nabil, 14, and Farhat Nader al-Rajabi, 10.
An Israeli army spokesperson did not have immediate information on the incidents.
Irmeileh is one of thousands of Palestinians living in the Israeli-controlled center of Hebron — the largest city in the occupied West Bank — among hundreds of Israeli settlers living illegally in the area.
Israeli rights group B’Tselem regularly documents Israeli settlers attacking locals under the protection of Israeli forces in Hebron.
Marzel is well-known among Palestinians living in Hebron who fear the right-winger, follower of radical rabbi Meir Kahana and member to the Kach movement — outlawed by Israel in 1994 under anti-terrorism laws.
Hebron’s Old City was declared a closed military zone in November, banning entrance to the area to all except registered Palestinian residents and Israeli settlers.
Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah following the ban called for the presence of Palestinian security forces in al-Shuhada Street and Tel Rumeida areas of Hebron in order to provide “security and protection” for Palestinians against Israeli settler assaults.
Israeli forces used the roof of a Palestinian family’s house to shoot
Al Khalil, Occupied Palestine – Sunday, 20th December 2015, Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians at Shuhada checkpoint in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), before arbitrarily firing towards civilians and journalists in the area.
Israeli forces shot a girl in the head with live ammunition. A Palestinian bystander, trying to help the girl and pull her towards the Palestinian side of the checkpoint right after she was shot, was shot in the mouth by Israeli forces. The man was trying to help, knowing that Israeli forces would most likely deny the girl any medical aid if the Palestinian ambulance was unable to reach her. Another Palestinian bystander was shot. The Palestinian girl, according to eye-witnesses, did have a knife, but instead of trying to disarm her, Israeli forces directly shot her in the head.
Whereas the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance, at the scene after only a few minutes, was denied access to the girl in order to deliver first aid, the two Palestinians injured were taken to hospital. After this happened, the Israeli forces threw stun grenades and shot tear-gas at passers-by and Red Crescent medics to prevent them from coming any closer and seeing what happened. Journalists that arrived at the scene were also attacked with stun grenades and threatened by Israeli forces with rubber coated steel bullets.
Israeli forces entered the H1-side of al-Khalil, that is under full Palestinian control, running into the Palestinian market and indiscriminately shooting tear gas at civilians going about their everyday life. They entered the roof of a Palestinian family’s home to use it as a base for shooting tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets at Palestinians in the street. A 5-year old boy was injured when Israeli forces fired directly at a school-bus passing by the checkpoint.
Shuhada checkpoint has recently been closed for ‘renovations’, stopping Palestinians from accessing the Palestinian neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida, located in the H2-area under full Israeli control. This neighbourhood, including the small stretch of Shuhada Street that Palestinians still had access to, has been declared a ‘closed military zone’ on November 1st. With the closure of the checkpoint, the restricted freedom of movement of Palestinians, has been completely brought to a halt.
HEBRON – A group of Israeli extremists prevented Palestinian children from going to school in the southern occupied West Bank’s Hebron city on Thursday, the director of the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education Hebron office told Ma’an.
Bassam Tahboub said Anat Cohen, a well-known extremist who frequently harasses Palestinian residents in the area, first “attacked” the school children, “preventing” them from reaching Qurtuba middle school.
Following Cohen’s initial attack, other extremists reportedly joined in and began cursing and scaring the children. Instead of attempting to continue to school, the children decided to turn back and head home, Tahboub said.
Children who attend Qurtuba school, aged 7 to 16, are often harassed by settlers in area, as the school is adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Hadassah in the center of Hebron city.
According to Tahboub, Israeli settlers in the area have continuously attempted to have the school closed down.
Hebron has become the epicenter of recent violence over the last two months, as roughly 30 percent of the 115 Palestinians to be killed since Oct. 1 have been from the Hebron district.
Hebron’s city center is home to some 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers, who live under the protection of thousands of Israeli forces, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.
al Khalil, occupied Palestine – For the last 15 days the family of Abu Shykri Al-Atrarshi have had no access to the top two floors of their house, which was illegally taken over by the Israeli occupation forces and where they set up a military base.
Ten Israeli soldiers suddenly showed up at the house in the neighbourhood of Abu Sheineh, Al Khalil; they broke in by smashing a window in the door, took the key and demanded that the family vacate the third floor. The soldiers did not have any documentation to explain or justify the incursion nor did they give an explanation to the family why their house was being taken over. Any questions are ignored and the third floor as well as the roof top are now off limits.
Since the soldiers arrived they have broken the windows, and shot holes in the water tank which supplies clean water to the household. They then took all the blankets on the premises and used them to dry the water leaking from the tanks. The family also reported that once the water supply was fixed the soldiers contaminated the water and used the apartment and roof as a toilet.
The soldiers never leave the apartment empty, but a few times per day there is a shift change. This happens at different times every day so there is no knowing when, and the soldiers move in and out as they please anyway. This means there can be soldiers moving throughout the building at any time, terrifying the family- especially the young children who no longer dare to leave the house on their own. The soldiers use the roof as a lookout and also frequently fire weapons such as teargas, from there into the surrounding neighbourhood.
The three story house is home to 13 people, now crowded into two small floors- including a young disabled child. They have no idea how long the soldiers will stay, or if the family will get their house back at all. They contacted the local DCO (District coordination office) who advised them to get a lawyer, which they did. The lawyer has now started the process to take the case to an Israeli court in Haifa, Israel. However Abu Shykri Al-Atrarsh has had no information on when the case will be heard or when a judgement can be expected. This, as in many cases, can take months if not years and in the meanwhile the family is trapped. Abu Shakri believes the army is trying to make the family leave the building altogether, but they are resolutely staying put.
This family now has to try to live their life underneath the very people who have broken into, stolen and disrespected their home. The daily struggle of living under the occupation is hardship enough but having your own home taken from under your eyes, and not being able to do anything about it is absolutely heartbreaking.
ISM today took pictures of the soldiers in the building to help the family evidence their presence there, which is needed for the court case. Every time the family has tried to take pictures themselves the soldiers have taken their phones and deleted the pictures.
Al-Khalil, Occupied Palestine – The 22nd of November, one month after the passing away of Palestinian activist and dear friend of the ISM, Hashem Azzeh, the team of al-Khalil (Hebron) visited his widow, Nisreen.
Nisreen with her late husband, Hashem Azzeh. Photo credit: Global Research
While sitting in her living room, Nisreen explained how, after her husband’s death, everyday life for her and her family has only gotten worse.
The Israeli army does not allow any visitors into the house. She also says that the army refers to them not by their actual names, but with numbers.
4 days before this conversation took place, Nisreen was coming back home to find the main access to the house closed. The Israeli soldiers had declared it a military closed zone. They asked her, “Why are you so nervous?” To which she replied, “Because the way is closed.”
The soldiers mockingly answered, “Call Mahmoud Abbas and tell him to stop the Intifada.” But Nisreen answered back to this cruel sarcasm, saying that this is H2 area, “which is ruled by Netanyahu.”
Since the main access to her home is now blocked, she is forced to use an alternative entrance where she must climb some very difficult rocks. Nisreen suffers from knee problems, and she can foresee that when the winter and the snow comes, this passageway will be very slippery, putting her in danger of falling.
Both Nisreen and her brother in law are afraid of their children going out alone on the street. They are especially afraid for Raghad, Nisreen’s oldest daughter who is 17, and her cousin, who is 19 years old. Because of their age, both of their parents are scared that the illegal Israeli settlers and Israeli army will shoot and kill them and place a knife next to their bodies, since this is what they have been doing, targeting youth of similar age, almost on a daily basis from the beginning of October. Read more about this here and here.
Therefore, Raghad is not going out of the house alone, and she had to stop walking her youngest sister to school. Now her mother has taken on that task.
Fear of settler violence is part of every day life for the inhabitants of Al-Khalil (Hebron). Nisreen will never forget how she suffered two miscarriages due to settlers’ attacks. During the first miscarriage, she was three months pregnant; the second time, she was four months pregnant.
After one of these miscarriages, which happened in 2003, she had decided to file a complaint to the Israeli Police. After waiting for 8 years, the case was finally brought to court in 2011. The settlers counted with three lawyers, whereas for her it was very hard to pay for all the necessary expenses.
She recalls how, during the first court hearing, the settlers did not show up saying they were sick. During the second court hearing, when the settlers came with three layers, she had presented a video showing how they had attacked her together with her son Younes, who was three years old at the time. The court even requested her to draw a map of the location where this took place. She did so, but the final decision of the court was that she was lying and she lost the case.
In the meantime, Nisreen continues her struggle to provide a life as normal as possible for her children.
For a deeper understanding of Al-Khalil’s daily life struggle, read an interview ISM made to late Hashem Azzeh in 2013 here.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Israeli forces closed the al-Hareka neighbourhood putting up new roadblocks and completely closing off a whole neighbourhood in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron).
The neighbourhood’s access to the main street has been blocked off with an iron gate for a long time already. Recently, a group of about twenty soldiers arrived to the neighbourhood to further limit the freedom of movement of the Palestinian residents.
One resident, a journalist documenting the soldiers putting the new roadblocks that completely barr any access to about 200-300 people living there, was detained by the soldiers for over an hour. Soldiers attempted to stop him from filming this measure of collective punishment, a clear infringement of freedom of the press. In order to reach the main road or leave their houses, people living behind the wall are now forced to walk all the way around and will thus need at least ten minutes more to reach the military gate that is already blocking their entrance.
Additionally, soldiers have commanded the roof of a private family home for military purposes and have erected a small military base there. A group of six soldiers is permanently stationed on the family home and “they slept on the roof”, as a school-boy explained.
The al-Hareka neighbourhood is bordering the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba, and thus is often the target of harassment and violence both from the Israeli forces as well as the settlers – often under the protection of the soldiers.
This is yet another measure to intensify the efforts to restrict – or completely stop – Palestinian freedom of movement. Such collective punishment measures have sky-rocketed in the recent weeks and months in occupied al-Khalil, and add to the increasing efforts to further exacerbate everyday life for Palestinians and eventually make them disappear completely.