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Right to play? Palestinian children in occupied al-Khalil

International Solidarity Movement | June 29, 2016

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – In occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), possibilities for Palestinian children to play are scarce. With the help of the Playgrounds for Palestine project, a brand-new playground was installed at Qurtuba school in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of al-Khalil.

Right to play – can you imagine that as a child, when playing, you’d need to be scared of being attacked, your parents worried whenever you’re out playing, and playing with your friends and enjoying something that is denied to you by a foreign occupying army?

The Tel Rumeida neighborhood is in the H2 area of al-Khalil, under full Israeli military control. After more than six months of collective punishment by the means of a ‘closed military zone’, deliberately designed to affect only the Palestinian population, this measure was officially lifted on 14th May 2016. Despite the lifting of some of the measures intended to forcibly displace the Palestinian population – and thus only a slightly disguised attempt at forced displacement, many of the restrictions applying on Palestinians have remained in place.

A staircase leading to Qurtuba school at the end of the tiny strip of Shuhada Street where Palestinian pedestrians are still allowed to be, is still under a complete closure – for Palestinians, whereas settlers, Israeli forces and anyone resembling a tourist is allowed to pass freely. This apartheid measure severs all the families accessing their homes through these stairs, as well as visitors to the Muslim cemetery and a weekly second-hand market of their main access, forcing them to take long detours. The many restrictions have also forced the project to carry large amounts of the materials through the neighborhood, as Palestinian cars are not allowed in the area. On one day, the workers were prevented from continuing their work on the playground and forced to leave by Israeli forces.

Palestinians carrying materials to the playground

Palestinians carrying materials to the playground

For the children growing up in this area, childhood is short. Child-arrests, even of children less than 12 years and thus illegal even under Israeli military law that is universally applied on the Palestinian population in the Israeli occupied West Bank, are not uncommon, as are humiliations and intimidations by the Israeli forces and settlers under the full protection of the Israeli forces.

The right to play, for Palestinian children, is only a theoretical concept, that often lacks any practical meaning, when growing up next to illegal settlements under a foreign military occupation. Playing on the streets of their neighborhood for most children is dangerous, as settlers do not even restrain from attacking children. In a nearby Palestinian kindergarten, Israeli settlers overnight stole a large roll of artificial grass intended to be part of the play-area for the children attending the kindergarten. With no institution to address this, the artificial grass is merely lost and missing in the play-area.

The installation of the playground at Qurtuba school, thus, is a sign of hope for the Palestinian children. An opportunity for the children to be exactly that: children. To play with their friends and enjoy their childhood, have fun and laugh.

July 14, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel continues to besiege Palestinian towns, breach international law in occupied West Bank

International Solidarity Movement | July 3, 2016

Occupied Hebron – In the last three days Israeli military forces have implemented several blockades isolating the cities of Yatta and Bani Na’im south of Hebron. It is reported that cement roadblocks, earth mounds, gates and checkpoints have been installed across the region, with no timeline for when they may be removed.

The blockades are only implemented to restrict the movement of Palestinians as illegal Israeli settlers can still pass the checkpoints. This discrimination is a clear apartheid strategy and limits Palestinians to not only being unable to attend work but also reaching basic human services such as hospitals. This strategy clearly violates Palestinian’s right to freedom of movement (Art.13 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

By enforcing these illegal blockades Israel is also restricting Palestinian movement during the final days of the holy month of Ramadan where thousands of Muslims wish to travel to the most significant religious sites for prayer and visit their families.

This act is also another example of Israel using collective punishment techniques, which are also illegal under international law. Israeli forces continually use collective punishment in the form of revoking travel and work permits, blockading cities and punitive house demolitions.

Operation Dove have compiled the following interactive map to illustrate the extent of the blockade.

The innocent people who are living under siege in Yatta and Bani Na’im are significantly impacted by the Israeli forces implementing such blockades, which have been condemned internationally by human rights organisations and NGOs.

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Video shows Israeli troops questioning underage Palestinians

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An Israeli soldier takes a photo from a Palestinian minor in Jaber neighborhood of al-Khalil (Hebron) on May 24, 2016.
Press TV – June 5, 2016

A leading Israeli rights group has denounced the Israeli military for illegally questioning a group of underage Palestinians, calling it a “blatant disregard” for the rights of minors.

A video provided by B’Tselem shows several dozen Israeli forces randomly gathering around 20 Palestinian children and teens from the streets and questioning them.

The Palestinians are forced to stand against a wall and answer questions about a stone-throwing incident, which had allegedly occurred last week.

The soldiers then take photo of every child and teen, using a cell phone, after making them sit in front of the wall before releasing them.

In a statement, B’Tselem said the scope of the latest incident and the fact that every minor was photographed was unusual.

To date, such incidents occurred within homes, with the children’s parents present, and without the minors themselves being questioned or accused of a specific offense, the rights group said.

According to B’Tselem, none of the 14 minors whose details were obtained by the rights group, had a record of being nabbed or questioned by the Israeli military.

The incident indicated that they were arrested and photographed “despite being suspected of nothing,” it said.

The statement said the “goal was primarily to intimidate the children in order to deter them from throwing stones, and to make it easier for the military to identify them in case they do.”

“This demonstrates blatant disregard for the military’s duty to protect the rights of minors.”

The Israeli military, it added, is banned from treating civilians, particularly underage ones, as potential criminals and using soldiers to deter them.

The whole incident was filmed by a B’Tselem volunteer living in the neighborhood. The rights group also obtained several of the minors’ accounts of the event.

In late May, the Palestinian Ministry of Information said nearly 2,080 Palestinian children have been killed and approximately 13,000 injured by the Israeli military over the past 16 years.

About 12,000 Palestinian children have been arrested, and 420 are currently being held in Israeli prisons, it added.

On Sunday, Israeli forces also arrested 13 Palestinians after storming their houses in the occupied West Bank.

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Hebron settlers steal wooden furniture from Palestinian home for Jewish bonfire celebration

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Ma’an – May 24, 2016

HEBRON – A group of right-wing Israeli settlers broke into an uninhabited Palestinian house in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday and stole wooden furniture, presumably to be burned during bonfire celebrations for the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer.

A spokesperson for Hebron-based activist group Youth Against Settlement, Issa Amro, told Ma’an that the houses belonged to the the Al-Sayyid Ahmad and Tahboub families, who have been banned from accessing their homes in Hebron’s Old City since Israeli forces sealed the area around al-Shuhada Street in 1994.

The holiday of Lag BaOmer, which will take place on Wednesday evening, commemorates the death of second-century Jewish mystic Simeon bar Yochai, and is traditionally celebrated with bonfires

It is not uncommon for young Israelis celebrating Lag BaOmer to steal wood from construction sites and other locations ahead of the holiday.

Local Palestinian house and shop owners in Hebron’s Old City have been banned from accessing their homes and shops after a US-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians inside the Ibrahimi Mosque that year.

In the aftermath of the massacre, Hebron was divided into area H1, under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and area H2 which includes the Old City and surrounding areas under full Israeli military control.

The area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces. Hebron residents frequently report attacks and harassment by the settlers carried out in the presence of the forces.

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel delivers demolition notices for EU-funded water tanks in Hebron

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Ma’an – May 18, 2016

HEBRON – Israeli authorities delivered four demolition notices on Wednesday ordering several Palestinians to remove water tanks being used for irrigation in the northern and eastern areas of the town of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals said.

The water tanks are used to irrigate lands in the areas of Beir Zaata, al-Furdeis and Thaghret al-Shabak, with an overall area of more than 30 dunams (7.4 acres) dependent on the tanks for irrigation, according to Muhammad Awad, a spokesperson for a local popular committee.

The tanks were set up earlier in 2016 under a UN-funded water development program, Awad said.

After Israeli authorities deliver a demolition order, the owners of the properties have seven days to remove the structures. If not, Israeli forces demolish the structures at the financial expense of the owners of the property.

Awad told Ma’an that the tanks belonged to Wahdi Hamdi Zamel Abu Maria, Jamil Muhammad Amer Abu Maria, Ghassan Muhammad Abed al-Aziz Brighith, and Khalid Youssef Abed al-Majd Brighith.

It remains unclear what legal pretext Israeli authorities used to issue the demolition orders.

Israel has come under international condemnation over repeated demolitions of EU-funded structures, with some accusing the Israeli government of demolishing Palestinian structures in retaliation for the EU’s decision in November to enforce labeling laws that would indicate if a product was produced in one of Israel’s 196 illegal settlements.

Since the start of 2016, Israeli forces have demolished 586 Palestinian-owned structures, leaving 800 Palestinians homeless in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to OCHA.

According to the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions, Israeli forces have demolished over 48,000 Palestinian homes and structures since the start of the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian mother and child in Hebron

Ma’an – May 14, 2016

350395CHEBRON – A group of Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian woman and her child late Friday night during an incursion into a home in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s Old City in the southern occupied West Bank.

Emad Abu Shamsiya, a coordinator for Human Rights Defenders, told Ma’an settlers attacked the house of Riyad Abu Hazza and beat his wife as settlers sprayed his daughter with pepper spray and caused her to faint.

Upon hearing the commotion, a group of volunteers rushed to the house to help fend off the settlers and provide first aid to Abu Hazza’s wife and child, Abu Shamsiya said.

Jawad Abu Aisheh, a coordinator for the Hebron-based group Youth Against Settlements, said the assault occurred after a weekly settler march took place in the city — usually held on Fridays or Saturdays — where Israeli settlers chant anti-arab slogans, such as “Death to Arabs,” or “Gas the Arabs,” as they harass Palestinians and damage their properties.

Abu Aisheh told Ma’an that the near daily settler attacks are only pieces of a much larger scheme of Israeli settlers attempting to push Palestinians out of the neighborhoods by creating an environment where they must constantly live in fear.

Israeli forces declared the area of Tel Rumeida a “closed military zone” in late October, and has since renewed the military order every month, only allowing Palestinian residents of the area with Israeli-issued identification numbers to enter.

However, according to Abu Aisheh, tomorrow is expected to be the last day of the closed military zone as families in the area have not yet received another military decree.

Mistreatment of Palestinians in the Hebron area has been common since the city was divided in the 1990s after a US-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians inside the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Tel Rumeida is located within the area of the city designated as H2, an area taking over the bulk of the Old City that is under full Israeli military control, and the site of five illegal Israeli settlements that continually expand into the neighborhoods of the more than 6,000 Palestinians who reside within the Israeli-controlled area.

The several hundred Israeli settlers who illegally reside in Hebron have made attacks on Palestinians and their properties an almost daily occurrence for several decades.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there have been a total of 30 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since the start of 2016, and a total of 221 attacks in 2015.

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Extremist settlers attack Palestinian human rights activists in Hebron

Ma’an – May 8, 2016

HEBRON – A group of extremist Israeli settlers on Saturday attacked two Palestinian human rights activists in the Tel Rumeida area in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, video footage showed.

Human Rights Defenders spokesperson Badee Dweik told Ma’an that settlers attacked Emad Abu Shamsiya and Yasser Abu Markhiya, who work with the group’s Hebron office. The two were taking footage of extremist settlers carrying rods near Palestinian homes in Tel Rumeida in Hebron’s Old City.

Abu Shamsiya, who serves as coordinator of the group in Hebron, said the settlers “were preparing to attack and intimidate Palestinian residents, especially children,” and that he rushed toward the scene with Abu Markhiya after they heard children screaming.

Their video shows a group of three settlers, two boys and one adult, begin to pass by. The adult settler can be heard saying in Hebrew, “if you take footage of me I’m going to kill you.” The children approach Abu Shamsiya and Abu Markhiya and order them to put down the camera before the adult strikes Abu Shamsiya.

“They punched me and broke my camera,” Abu Shamsiya told Ma’an, highlighted that Israeli soldiers were watching when the settlers attacked him and his colleague without intervening.

Dweik told Ma’an that attacks by Israeli settlers and Israeli soldiers against activists attempting to document settler attacks on Palestinian residents have increased recently, especially after footage captured by Abu Shamsiya in March of an Israeli soldier shooting and killing Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif while he was lying motionless on the ground stoked widespread international criticism.

A day after release of the video, Israeli settlers gathered outside the home of Abu Shamsiya in Hebron to threaten him.

Tel Rumeida — where Shamsiya’s house is located and the site both Saturday’s incident and al-Sharif’s killing — has long been a flashpoint for tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers and military, and is location to an illegal Israeli settlement.

Mistreatment of Palestinians in the Hebron area has been common since the city was divided in the 1990s after a US-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians inside the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The majority of the city was placed under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, while the Old City and surrounding areas were placed under Israeli military control in a sector known as H2.

The area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces. Hebron residents frequently report attacks and harassment by the settlers carried out in the presence of the forces.

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Imad Abu Shamsiya: A lifetime of resistance

International Solidarity Movement | May 1, 2016 

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On the morning of the 24th of March around 8:30 am two Palestinian youths, Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, 21, and Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, also 21, were shot to death by Israeli forces after an alleged stabbing attempt in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida. The world became aware of the extra-judicial killing of al-Sharif by the Israeli-French army medic Elor Azaria through the footage shot by Imad Abu Shamsiya, resident of Tel Rumeida, co-founder of Hebron Human Rights Defenders and contributor to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Over the last month Imad has become something of a celebrity. He has appeared on Palestinian news, made appearances in international media and has even been interviewed by mainstream British newspaper The Independent. All of which has come at the same time as the settlers in Tel Rumeida and in wider Hebron have issued death threats and upped their campaign of persecution against him and his family.

Imad and his 3 sons, Awne (left), Soli (middle), Muhammed (right), who are all taking part in resistance against the occupation.

Imad and his 3 sons, Awne (left), Soli (middle), Muhammed (right), who are all taking part in resistance against the occupation.

Last week ISM activists had the privilege of sitting down with Imad and talking about the impact of these events on his life, his family’s history in Hebron, his history of arrests by the Israeli Occupying Forces and his hopes and fears for his life both now and in the future.

Imad’s family have lived in Hebron for generations: “I was born here, my father was born here, my grandfather and my great-grandfather, all born here.” He can trace his family’s presence in Hebron back at least 218 years as the family had a house near to the Ibrahimi Mosque registered in their name from that time, in addition to the family home that they occupy to this day in Tel Rumeida.

Seven years ago in 2009, however, the family’s house in Tel Rumeida was standing empty. Imad knew that it would only be a matter of time before the settlers, by now established in Tel Rumeida and on Shuhada Street, would attempt to sieze the home. It was then that Imad decided to move from his home in H1 (Palestinian-controlled Hebron) to Tel Rumeida in H2. This extraordinary decision was supported by his entire extended family as well as his wife Faiza and his five children (then aged between 4 and 11). Imad himself felt confident in this choice: “At first we thought there was not a lot of difference, just that here there is a checkpoint when there was not one where we had lived before.”

But despite his initial downplaying of the situation, the decision had a huge impact on his family. From the get-go his children would go out to play in the street and they would be attacked by settlers or harassed by the army. However, this only served to strengthen Imad and his family’s desire to stay in Tel Rumeida. Even his youngest son – Salah, now 11 – knows that they are there to stop the settlers from stealing their home and their land.

Sadly this notion of resistance that runs through the whole family has, perhaps unsurprisingly, had some serious ramifications for all of them. No more so than for Imad’s oldest son – Aune, 17. Aune was shot in the foot with a ‘dum-dum’ bullet – live ammunition that splinters on entry – and Imad was further shocked when, at the checkpoint near his home, the local area commander of the Israeli Occupying Force told him that he would kill Aune if he saw him again. They decided it was best to send Aune away to live with relatives and so, a child of seventeen, he cannot live with his mother and father and never sees his four siblings. Moreover the other four children have all, at one time or other, been victims of abuse and attacks at the hands of the settlers. Although perhaps the worst that the family have lived through is the current situation and the death threats that Imad has experienced since his role in the video of the extra-judicial killing was made public. Imad, however, has been through extremely challenging times before and is undaunted by the situation he faces.

Imad at home

Imad in his house, which is regularly targeted by settlers and army

In the late eighties during the first Intifada a young Imad – sixteen years of age – would, like many young male Palestinians at that time, go to the demonstrations in protest of the Israeli occupation. The Israeli forces then, as now, would shut these demonstrations down with extreme measures. On one such occasion – on Friday 20th of January 1988 – Imad found himself hospitalised having been shot in the hand with live ammunition: “I was in hospital in Jerusalem for fifty days recovering and at that time the Israelis came and arrested me.” In prison Imad was questioned for eighteen days, accused of being a ringleader and organiser. Finally brought before the court he was sentenced to six months in prison for his role as a demonstrator: “then, thirteen days after I was released that first time, they arrested me again and sentenced me to another six months in prison.” He wasn’t to know it then but this was the first year of a total of four years and two months that he would spend in prison.

On the 16th of February 1991 Imad was arrested once again and this time he was kept in solitary confinement for 111 days: “Imagine it. You are alone, without water to wash with, you don’t see the sun, you are cold, it’s winter, you are in a t-shirt and shorts.” During this time he was tortured: beaten, subjected to stress positions and consistently interrogated. He was accused of throwing stones and molotov cocktails as well as being a leader within the Intifada. He denied all accusations and after 111 days, when they had nothing to charge him with, he was taken before the court and sentenced to another six months detention regardless.

Example of common stress-position (torture position) utilised in Israeli interrogation

Example of common stress-position (torture position) utilised in Israeli interrogation

Once again in 1992 he was arrested and again he was kept in solitary confinement, this time for a period of 75 days. Refusing to confess to the false accusations of violence that were leveled at him, Imad was sentenced to six more months of detention without charge.

In 1995 Imad, specifically due to his position as a citizen of the already divided town of Hebron, was part of a large group of Palestinians who objected to the terms of the Oslo Agreement. As such he was part of a mass-arrest and sent to the infamous Naqab Prison in the Negev Desert where he was detained for a further six months. Imad would be arrested twice more – in 1997 and 1999. On both occasions he was arrested in the middle of the night, taken from his family home, not questioned or interrogated, but sentenced to a further six months detention.

Taking this history of persecution and Imad’s lifelong resistance into account, it is perhaps less surprising to picture Imad and Faiza agreeing with their children to move to the front line of resistance when they moved to Tel Rumeida in 2009. Then two years ago he formed Hebron Human Rights Defenders with Badee Dwalik, and Imad’s journey towards infamy began. Having been trained in the use of video cameras by B’Tselem, Imad and Badee recruited others from Tel Rumeida and wider Hebron and trained them to use video cameras donated by anti-Zionist activists in the US. Imad even trained his wife and children to use the cameras: the whole family knows that if things get bad with soldiers and/or settlers then the first recourse is to pick up a camera and to document. Now Badee and Imad plan to teach the local children in Tel Rumeida how to use the cameras: they intend to resist the occupation by exposing it’s most inhumane and abusive elements.

Badia from Human Rights Defenders at a school in Tel Rumeida, teaching the kids how to film.

Badia from Human Rights Defenders at a school in Tel Rumeida, teaching the kids how to film.

All of which leads us neatly back to the events of the 24th March this year (and you can read about the events of that day from Imad’s perspective here.) One would have thought that living with his wife and four of his children in occupied Hebron, with the constant threat of attack by settlers as well as harassment by soldiers out for revenge for him having made the video, Imad would feel some negativity about his life now, or at least have mixed feelings about having found fame in this way. Nothing could be further from the truth: “if I could go back in time and had the opportunity to maybe not shoot the film I wouldn’t take it. I would always want the world to see what Palestinians have always known goes on”. Still, one could forgive if he felt that perhaps it would be best if his family left Tel Rumeida: “we will never leave here. They can harass us and attack us but we will not let them have our family’s home and our land. This is something my wife and children agree with 100%. We will not leave.” And would he leave Hebron? “Never.”

The occupation could have ground Imad Abu Shamsiya down. They have tried everything that they can to ruin his spirit – from torture and arrest to death threats and harassment – but Imad is a man, supported by his extraordinary family, who personifies the strength and the generosity of spirit demonstrated by the Palestinian people in the face of such indignity and suffering. He certainly touched and moved the ISM activists that had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with him.

Lastly it is ISM’s pleasure to convey a message from Imad to the international community, to the political class and to all Palestinians:

“As Palestinians we always said that extra-judicial killings happened. Now people have seen my video I hope that the world will know that they do. Now people  know what we live with and I hope we can work together to end the occupation so that we, the Palestinian people, can be free.” – Imad Abu Shamsiya

May 3, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Illegal settler visits impose severe restrictions on Palestinian presence in al-Khalil

International Solidarity Movement | April 27, 2016

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – During this week’s ‘Pessach’ celebrations from 22nd to 29th April, Israeli settlers and Israeli forces throughout occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) have been taking over Palestinians houses, rooftops, streets and entire areas while denying passage for Palestinians.

Settlers 'celebrating Pesaach' while Palestinians are denied access to the area

Settlers ‘celebrating Pesaach’ while Palestinians are denied access to the area

Last Friday night, with the start of the ‘holiday’, large groups of settlers were going from the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of al-Khalil, towards the Ibrahimi mosque, 60% of which has been taken over by the settlers that installed a ‘synagogue’ following the 1994 Ibrahimi mosque massacre; while Palestinians were stopped, frisked and delayed.

Israeli forces taking over the roofs of Palestinian family homes

Israeli forces taking over the roofs of Palestinian family homes

On Monday and Tuesday, Palestinians’ movement was entirely restricted and H2 was completely void of any Palestinian presence in order to facilitate the settler’s freedom of movement and to enable a space for the main ‘Pessach celebrations’. During these two days the checkpoint at the Ibrahimi mosque has remained closed, thus closing off the main entrance for Palestinians heading to the mosque. Palestinians were entirely barred from entering the mosque during these two days, while settlers used the additional 40% of the mosque that has so far remained for Palestinians – with the ‘usual’ entry restrictions and harassment by Israeli forces.

closed Ibrahimi mosque checkpoint barring Palestinian movement

Closed Ibrahimi mosque checkpoint barring Palestinian movement

While bus loads of settlers from all over Palestine are arriving in the Old City of al-Khalil, new barricades, entry and movement restrictions for Palestinians are springing up throughout the city. Al-Faiha’a girls school, right opposite the parking lot used for the settler only buses, has been forced to finish early in order to at least attempt to provide a safe way home for the girls, despite the heavy army and settler presence. During Monday and Tuesday, a sharp decrease in the number of girls attending school was noted by both the teachers and international human rights defenders offering protective presence. Israeli forces have also taken control of two shops right next to the school building and turned it into a military base.

Israeli forces moving into the building next to the girls school

Israeli forces moving into the building next to the girls school

On Monday, Israeli forces escorted endless groups of settlers on a ‘tour’ through the main Palestinian market in the Old City during the busy noon hours – blocking the narrow alleyways while giving a Zionist version of the history of the city. Palestinians were stopped and forced to wait for the tours to pass. One Palestinian man was arrested while another one was seriously injured when settlers threw a rock into the Palestinian market hitting him right on the head.

Despite the area behind Shuhada checkpoint being H1 and thus supposedly under full Palestinian control, Israeli forces on Tuesday brought large groups of settlers, after ‘clearing’ the area for bombs, in a sheer show of their power and in total disregard of any (international) agreement. Shuhada checkpoint has during the ‘holiday’ season seen repeated and arbitrary delays, causing Palestinians to wait for, at times, hours to be allowed to go to their homes located in the ‘closed military zone’ while settlers were freely roaming the streets and could be seen from the checkpoint chit-chatting with the soldiers.

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli army take control of street under Palestinian authority for illegal settlers’ visit

International Solidarity Movement | April 27, 2016

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – At around 11.30am on Tuesday 26 April, heavily armed Israeli occupation soldiers and border police started appearing in large numbers through Shuhada checkpoint (also called checkpoint 56). This area is H1 area, supposedly controlled by the Palestinian Authority, where Israelis have no legal authority. In blatant disregard of this fact they proceeded to walk down Bir Saba Street, stopping at each shop demanding all cars on the street were removed, but did not make the shops close as they usually do. At the same time the soldiers closed Shuhada checkpoint for registered resident Palestinians, who could neither  leave or enter to reach their homes.

The soldiers moved up and down the street, ensuring their demands were met and the cars removed. Where they could not find the owners, they broke into cars to search for explosives. While this was ongoing, more soldiers and border police arrived blocking off the road at the other end from the checkpoint. A sniffer dog was led up and down the street by the soldiers to also search for non existent explosives. The army rummaged around rubbish piles along the road, or made local shop keepers move rubbish for them to inspect, leaving a mess for the Palestinians to clean up.

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Occupation soldiers searching for explosives outside local shops. Photo credit: ISM

Several hours later, having also made locals move off the road and sit on the pavement, the reason for this elaborate exercise was clear when a group of approximately 40 settlers, escorted by the same number of border police and soldiers, moved from the illegal settlement inside Shuhada checkpoint into Palestinian territory down the road to a clearly revered tomb, where they spent ten minutes or so. They were then escorted back into the illegal settlement, and followed by five subsequent groups of illegal settlers, again escorted by police and army.

IMG_8455Illegal settlers escorted by occupation soldiers and border police to the tomb in H1. Photo credit: ISM

Local and international activists were present at several points along the road to monitor and photograph events, and any incidents. When the settlers walked past several of them took photos and/or filmed the activists along the road, for unknown reasons. One settler asked where the internationals were from, and welcomed them to Israel. Not only was this factually inaccurate and a disregard of the Oslo agreement, but a highly insensitive and conflictual comment, made on Palestinian territory.

At three o’clock the “tours” were finished and all the settlers escorted back through the checkpoint into H2 area, where large groups of Palestinians live under Israeli military control. A day of trading was lost for the local shops keepers; not to mention that an Israeli incursion into a Palestinian area is illegal and unacceptable.

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 3 Comments

Palestinians forced to close shops in Hebron for Israeli Passover visits

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Ma’an – April 26, 2016

BETHLEHEM – Palestinian shop owners were forced to close their storefronts in Hebron Tuesday as Israeli politicians called for the annexation of the occupied city during visits by thousands of right-wingers for Passover.

Hebron local and prominent activist Issa Amro told Ma’an that Israeli forces instructed shopkeepers in both the H1 and H2 areas of Hebron to remain closed.

Amro said that by forcing shops to close in H1 — the area of the city under jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority — the Israeli authorities were supporting right-wing Israelis aiming to push Palestinian locals from the city.

“They want to make it look [to Israeli settlers] like Palestinians don’t live here,” Amro said.

The closures of shops in H1 is likely to come as a detriment to shop owners’ livelihoods while road closures typically implemented by Israeli forces during the visits will impede the movement of Palestinians throughout the Hebron district, Amro added.

The H2 area, under full Israeli military control, continued under lockdown as the Ibrahimi Mosque — known to Jews as the Cave of Patriarchs — was sealed to Palestinian Muslims for the second consecutive day as Israelis visited holy sites in and around the Old City, Amro said.

Amro told Ma’an that large groups of Israelis visiting the area under armed protection on Monday launched verbal abuse at Palestinian locals, and several Palestinian families refused to leave their homes out of fear of violence from the groups.

An Israeli army spokesperson did not have immediate information on increased security measures or closure in the Hebron area for Passover.

Thousands of Israelis descended on Hebron’s Old City Monday as Israeli politicians held a rally in the center of the flashpoint area, under heavy protection by Israeli security forces.

Israeli media outlets reported that Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan of the Habayit HaYehudi party called on the Israeli leadership to annex the occupied West Bank in its entirety.

“We have to connect Judea and Samaria to the State of Israel. We have returned to our land, so that we will never again have to leave it,” Ben-Dahan said, referring to the West Bank.

Knesset member Oren Hazan, of the Likud party, demanded Israel’s defense ministry allow more Jewish Israelis to settle in Hebron, referring specifically to two buildings reportedly purchased by far-right groups.

“The buildings in Hebron are the basis of peace, not dispute. The time has come to populate Hebron, just as the time has come to populate every hilltop in Judea and Samaria and in all of Israel,” the Jerusalem Post reported Hazan as saying.

Hebron — the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank — has long stood at the epicenter of violence in the occupied West Bank as the Israeli military and settlers attempt to expel Palestinians from their homes, particularly in the Old City where Monday’s rally took place.

The Israeli leadership has long ignored demands by the international community to halt settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory, and the UN has in the past slammed Israel for expansion of settlements in Hebron’s Old City in particular, where increased Jewish presence has come at the detriment to Palestinian locals.

Emily Mulder contributed reporting from Bethlehem.

April 26, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli Army Closes Entrance Of Hebron Emergency Center With Concrete Blocks

IMEMC – April 25, 2016

HWC1-e1461576206112Israeli soldiers closed the main entrance of the Hebron Emergency Center, run by the Hebron Health Committees, by placing concrete blocks, completely sealing it, and deployed dozens of soldiers on its rooftop on Monday morning.

Dr. Ramzi Abu Yousef, director of the Health Work Committees (HWC) in Hebron, said many soldiers occupied the center’s rooftop, and turned it into a military base.

Abu Yousef warned of the consequences of this violation, especially since the center receives hundreds of patients on a daily basis, and added that the center provides its medical services to more than 60,000 Palestinians.

“For years now, the center has been subject to frequent Israeli military violations, including many invasions, and the soldiers even fired gas bombs at it,” Abu Yousef said, “They also repeatedly sprayed it with waste-water mixed with chemicals, in addition to harassing the patients and their families, and the various measures restricting their freedom of movement.”

The HWC voiced an urgent appeal to various human rights groups to intervene, and provide the needed protection to Palestinian health centers, in addition to pressuring Israel into halting its serious violations.

“People who need medical care have the right to receive it, but Israel continues to violate it,” the HWC added, “International Humanitarian Law stresses on the importance of unrestricted access to medical facilities.”

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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