Hebron, occupied Palestine – Yesterday, Elor Azraya, a soldier in the Israeli army, infamous for the extrajudicial execution of Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), has been released to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Pessach with his family.
21-year old Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif was lying on the ground incapacitated after what Israeli forces claim was a knife-attack by him and Ramzi al-Qasrawi against Israeli soldiers stationed at Gilbert checkpoint in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of occupied al-Khalil. In a video that was captured by human rights defender Emad Abu Shamsiyyah, who has since been receiving death threats from settlers, Elor Azraya can be seen cocking his gun and executing the unconscious Abed al-Fattah with a shot in the head. With blood and brain matter starting to seep from the wound in his head, it is obvious that Abed al-Fattah was still alive when executed in cold-blood by Elor Azraya.
*** WARNING*** the following video contains extremely graphic material. A soldier is seen executing one of the Palestinian men at 1:52. Video-credit: Emad Abu Shamsiya
The neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida and the tiny strip of Shuhada Street where Palestinians are still ‘allowed’ to walk after the 1994 Ibrahimi mosque massacre, have been declared a ‘closed military zone’ since 1st November 2015 in an act of collective punishment against the whole Palestinian population. The increase of humiliating and racist ‘security-controls’ towards only the Palestinian residents by Israeli forces, goes hand in hand with the dehumanization of these residents with the introduction of a number system, where every Palestinian resident was assigned a number that he or she is being referred to. When passing and being checked at one of the countless checkpoints whether a Palestinian resident is allowed to enter, soldiers check whether they are registered and numbered residents. At the same time, Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements are allowed to freely and without hassle, roam the streets, regardless of whether they actually are residents in this area.
The approval and support Elor Azraya has been receiving both from his comrades (that can be seen in the video with them not even flinching when he executes Abed al-Fattah) and settlers, mirrors the great support he enjoys from the majority of the Israeli population. Upon arriving home, Elor Azraya was received as a hero with a big celebration. The Israeli army clearly foster a culture where extrajudicial executions and an excessive use of force against Palestinians is considered ‘commendable’, ‘normal’ and even ‘heroism’; which is approved of not only by Israeli politics, but also society, and is thus becoming an integral part of Israeli society.
In various demonstrations in favour of this cold-blooded execution, Israeli demonstrators have been seen with placards asking to ‘kill them all’ – applauding not only the heinous execution of Abed al-Fattah, but calling on everyone to kill all the Palestinians – a clear call for the ethnic cleansing, and genocide, of Palestinians. These demonstrations have attracted hundreds of Israelis, and have not received any condemnation by the Israeli public or government.
Whereas Elor Azraya has been released until Sunday, the body of Abed al-Fattah is still being held by the Israeli government in a practice where the Israeli government holds hostage the bodies of Palestinians they accuse of attempting to harm Israeli forces or settlers. Like Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif, many more Palestinian families are thus denied the right to bury their loved ones and mourn their loss. Families of these Palestinians and their supporters have been protesting this inhumane tactic, demanding the release of the bodies.
In an environment that supports and commends the extrajudicial killing of a (Palestinian) human being lying incapacitated on the ground – clearly posing no threat to anyone – it does not come as a big surprise that Elor Azraya has been released ‘to celebrate Pessach with his family’. The charges for the heinous murder of Abed al-Fattah had already been reduced to ‘manslaughter’, despite the telling and obvious video footage. His release without any consequence for the execution of a Palestinian so clearly caught on camera is not just another sign of how cold-blooded, racist and inhumane the apartheid Israeli occupation of Palestine is; but also of how the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ visibly has no regard or rather a total disregard for human rights, the rule of law or even of human life – as long as it is Palestinian life.
The Israeli authorities are furious after a UNESCO resolution stated that the Temple Mount and holy sites in Hebron and Bethlehem are an “integral part of Palestine.” The organization also criticized Israel, “the occupying power,” for planting fake graves in Muslim cemeteries.
Two tourist destinations, the Cave of the Patriarchs in the heart of the old city of Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, are named in the paper as “Palestinian sites.” The draft decision by the UNESCO executive board on occupied Palestine was released April 11.
UNESCO “reaffirms that the two concerned sites located in… Hebron and in Bethlehem are an integral part of Palestine” and “disapproves the ongoing Israeli illegal excavations, works, construction of private roads for settlers and a separation wall inside the Old City of… Hebron, that harmfully affect the integrity of the site,” the statement says.
UNESCO slammed Israeli attacks on Muslims in the Temple Mount, which it only refers to by its Arabic name, Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and its holy site, Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The organization “strongly condemns the Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their Holy Site Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif, and requests Israel, the Occupying Power, to respect the historic Status Quo and to immediately stop these measures,” the statement says.
Al-Aqsa Mosque became the flashpoint for bloodshed in 2015, amid mounting tensions over the holy site, sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
UNESCO called on Israel to stop “banning Muslims from burying their dead in some spaces and by planting Jewish fake graves in other spaces of the Muslim cemeteries.”
The group also criticized “the continuous Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip,” which causes an “intolerable number of casualties among Palestinian children,” as well as “the attacks on schools and other educational and cultural facilities and the denial of access to education.”
Israeli authorities have reacted with anger to the UNESCO document.
“This is yet another absurd UN decision,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, as cited by Israeli media.
“UNESCO ignores the unique historic connection of Judaism to the Temple Mount, where the two temples stood for a thousand years and to which every Jew in the world has prayed for thousands of years. The UN is rewriting a basic part of human history and has again proven that there is no low to which it will not stoop,” he added.
This is not the first UNESCO resolution that condemns Israel for aggression at holy sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank. In October 2015 the group issued a document which censured Israel for limiting Muslim access to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and reaffirmed that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem are Palestinian sites.
The document was passed by 26 votes to six – those against being the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Estonia.
Tel Rumeida, al Khalil, occupied Palestine – On Saturday 3rd of April 2016 settlers entered land belonging to Muhammad Abu Haikal in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron on the occupied West Bank in Palestine. The settler children built a tent and then brought other settlers who prayed and ate there. It took more than four hours from when the police arrived until the settlers actually left, still claiming that it was their land and running around so that the police would not be able to evict them.
The first young settler kids arrived at the land at around 9 o’clock in the morning and started building a tent out of wood and sheets that they had found and playing on the land. They were actually playing in Muhammad Abu Haikal’s garden, but the end of the garden has been declared a closed military area by the Israeli Occupation Forces, who have made a military outpost in the garden and cut off the end of it of with barbed wire. The settler children entered the garden using the staircase that has been built for the soldiers to reach the outpost: they stamped down the barbed wire and covered it with a piece of wood to prevent themselves from getting injured.
Later on, while the family was trying to pick almonds from trees in the part of the garden that is not a closed military Area, the settler children returned with a number of adult settlers and more children. Muhammed Abu Haikal and the internationals present asked the settlers to leave the land, but they refused. He then contacted the police.
After the police arrived, the settlers once again claimed to be the owners of the land, with the right to remain there. The Palestinian family was asked to step back and had to stop harvesting their garden. Not until after the settlers had prayed on the land multiple times, brought food and played ball there, did the police finally try to get them to leave. The police asked all Palestinians and internationals to leave as well, as they said, “it is impossible to make Israelis leave, if there are Palestinians on the land”. It then took the police over two hours to evict the settlers. They then removed the materials that the children had left on the part of the land that is not a closed military area, but refused to pull down the tent, because, they said, it was not allowed on Shabbat.
Finally the soldiers closed off the closed military area with more barbed wire and allowed the family back into their garden. If Palestinians had been trespassing on settlers land, which is illegally occupied, they would probably have been arrested immediately, but when it is the other way around, which it usually is, the police do not use any kind of force.
Israeli forces demolish the home of Ihab Maswada in Hebron on March 31, 2016. (Photo: Israeli army)
HEBRON – Israeli forces late Wednesday demolished part of the home belonging to the family of a Palestinian who was shot dead after stabbing an Israeli settler in December.
Locals said that Israeli forces closed all the entrances of the Jabal al-Sharif area in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, and deployed heavily around the home of Ihab Fathi Maswada, as well as the house of Abd al-Rahman Yusri Maswada.
Ihab Maswada was killed on Dec. 7 after carrying out a stabbing attack against a settler near the Abu al-Rish checkpoint in southern Hebron. The Israeli settler succumbed to his wounds weeks later.
Maswada’s cousin, Abd al-Rahman, was killed on site on Dec. 9 after stabbing two Israelis on al-Shuhada Street.
Ihab Maswada’s brother said Israeli soldiers only gave the family ten minutes to evacuate the house, forcing them to go on the house’s second floor while they demolished the internal walls of the home.
Maswada’s mother said that Israeli soldiers then “fired a stun grenade inside the house and left the house laughing.”
Israeli authorities first issued a demolition order for Maswada’s home in early February, but had already threatened to destroy the house days after his death. His father said the demolition order was issued three days ago and that soldiers told them the demolition would be carried out in a week.
“We were surprised when they showed up after midnight,” he said.
Punitive home demolitions were expedited at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in mid-October, and many have been carried out since.
The move came despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice does not deter attacks.While families who receive demolition orders are given the opportunity to appeal the measures, Israel’s High Court of Justice typically rejects such appeals, according to Israeli watchdog Hamoked.
Israeli rights group B’Tselem condemned the practice in October as “court sanctioned revenge,” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment.
Israeli forces demolish the home of Ihab Maswada on March 31, 2016 in Hebron. (Photo: Israeli army)
Israeli forces demolish the home of Ihab Maswada on March 31, 2016 in Hebron. (Photo: Israeli army)
RAMALLAH – Four Palestinians arrested this week for Facebook posts have spoken of physical assault during their detention and interrogation, in the latest evidence to emerge of abuse that rights groups say is systemic in Israel’s jails.
The testimonies were collected by the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs and relate to four Palestinian youths, including at least two teenagers detained overnight Tuesday.
Hussein al-Sheikh, a lawyer with the committee, said 19-year-old Sameh Abu Sel was “seriously assaulted” when Israeli forces stormed his home in al-Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron on Tuesday.
The youth was tied up and left outdoors in cold weather for more than 10 hours, al-Sheikh said, noting that the mistreatment left him sick.
Meanwhile, al-Sheikh said that 18-year-old Ahmad Raed Jadallah, from Beit Ur at-Tahta in Ramallah district, was physically assaulted by Israeli forces during the four-hour drive to the Etzion detention center after he too was detained Tuesday.
The lawyer also cited two other recently detained Palestinians — Muhammad Mahmoud Othman and Muhammad Samer Othman — who also spoke of being physically assaulted in the Etzion detention center, although no further details were provided.
All four detainees were charged with “inciting violence” against Israel in posts made Facebook, al-Sheikh said.
In recent months, Israeli has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by “incitement.”
Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.
Those detained for Facebook posts join an estimated 7,000 Palestinians currently inside Israeli prisons, where reports of mistreatment and torture is common.
Earlier this year, Israeli rights group B’Tselem released a report documenting “systemic” torture in Israel’s Shkima prison, which they said was taking place with total impunity.
HEBRON – Israeli settlers on Friday gathered outside the home of a human rights worker in Hebron to hurl abuse at him, a day after he captured on camera an Israeli soldier’s killing of a wounded Palestinian that has sparked international outcry. Imad Abu Shamsiya, a staff member with Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, told Ma’an after settlers threatened him: “I now fear for my life and the life of my family. I’m afraid they might attack my house and do me harm.”
He added that he fears the possibility of suffering the same fate as the Dawabsha family, who were killed in an arson attack committed by settlers last year in the village of Duma in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian residents of Hebron Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif and Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, both 21 years old, were shot down Thursday after allegedly stabbing and moderately wounding an Israeli soldier near a military checkpoint in Hebron’s Old City.
Shamsiya recorded rare video footage of an Israeli soldier shooting al-Sharif in the head at point-blank range in plain view of the medical team after he had already been shot at least once and left motionless on the ground.
The incident has brought a barrage of condemnations from the Israeli leadership and led Israel’s army to detain the soldier responsible and launch an investigation.
The release of the graphic video has called attention to what rights groups, international leaders, and Palestinian officials call a policy of “extrajudicial executions” by Israel against Palestinians, since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel last October.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said Friday he strongly condemned the apparent “extrajudicial execution” of al-Sharif.
“This was a gruesome, immoral, and unjust act that can only fuel more violence and escalate an already volatile situation,” Mladenov said.
Tel Rumeida — where Shamsiya’s house is located and the site of the Thursday’s incident — has been a flashpoint for tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers and military, and is near the illegal settlement of Beit Yishai.
Mistreatment of Palestinians in the Hebron area has been common since the city was divided in the 1990s after a US-born 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.
Hebron, Occupied West Bank – On the 24th March, Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) celebrated the holiday of ‘Purim’. The settlers marched through the Old City of al-Khalil, starting off from the spot where just a few hours before, Israeli forces gunned down two Palestinian youth and then executed one of them in cold blood.
In the morning, Israeli forces shot and severely injured two Palestinian youth in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood and then left them lying on the ground seriously injured while Israeli medics were attending to a slightly injured Israeli soldier. Palestinian ambulances, that are not allowed to drive on this road that is only for settlers use, were prevented by Israeli forces from reaching the injured Palestinian youth. In a video published by B’Tselem, a soldier can clearly be seen shooting one of the youth in the head at point-blank range even though he is lying on the ground and is not posing a threat to anyone.
Only a few hours after this extrajudical execution, settlers started their joyous march, dressed up in costumes, with music blasting from a bus, dancing in the same spot where the two Palestinians were murdered in cold blood.
Illegal settlers celebrating in the exact spot where two Palestinians were murdered in cold-blood
Photo credit: Youth Against Settlements
The procession of settlers then proceeded down Shuhada Street, where the main illegal Israeli settlements in the heart of the city are located, before turning towards the Ibrahimi mosque. Shuhada Street, except for a tiny strip, has been completely closed for Palestinians, who are not allowed to even walk there – unlike the illegal settlers who can walk and drive. When the march reached the vicinity of Ibrahimi mosque, Israeli forces started closing off the area to all Palestinians, physically pushing back children behind barriers and preventing Palestinians from accessing the area, even if they were residents, in order to create a space free of Palestinians for the celebrations of the settlers to take place.
Settler children. One drinking wine, one holstering a machine gun and another aiming a pistol at onlookers
Israeli settlers celebrating while Palestinians are denied walking down the street
Palestinians and Internationals are not allowed to pass
One of the settlers, of which many were dressed up in costumes, was seen in a shirt flashing a raised fist on a yellow background, which is the symbol of the ‘Kach’, a party of extremist Israeli fundamentalist settlers, deemed a terrorist group even by the Israeli government. The party was founded by Meir Kahane, who publicly called for the expulsion of Palestinians and to end culture relations between Jewish and Palestinian students. On Tuesday, two days before, during celebrations for the same holiday, the loudspeakers of the Ibrahimi mosque were mis-used to broadcast hate-speech calling for the expulsion of Palestinians from al-Khalil.
Israeli settlers with a Kahane-shirt (settler in the middle)
One of the settler children dancing on top of a bus was playing with a pistol. Even though the police realized this, they merely took the weapon from him – but then gave it back shortly adfter. If a Palestinian of any age had been seen with anything resembling a weapon, the person would likely be shot immediately.
The settlers’ celebrations kept going uninterrupted with Israeli forces ensuring that Palestinians would not cross the way of the settlers, forcing them to stay back, and even closing Ibrahimi mosque checkpoint to ensure no one would even come close.
Palestinian civilians stopped by Israeli forces after they opened the street for Palestinians again while settlers freely pass the checkpoint
Israeli forces also used the roof of a Palestinian family home in the vicinity of the mosque as a look-out point. This is just another small example of the impunity and supremacy settlers enjoy with the active support of the Israeli forces, while Palestinians are systematically humiliated, oppressed and killed in cold blood under the Israeli military occupation.
Hebron, occupied Palestine – Since the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre, the majority of Shuhada Street – once the thriving Palestinian market and main thoroughfare connecting north and south al-Khalil (Hebron) – has been closed to Palestinians. They are completely barred from accessing it, except for a small stretch in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood.
This tiny strip that is legally still accessible for Palestinians is restricted by the recently ‘renovated’ Shuhada checkpoint at the beginning of the street and ends where the street begins to border the illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah, beyond which Israeli forces assure that no Palestinians exist. Further down Shuhada street, clearly marked with yet another military post barring anyone who might attempt to enter the street, are even more Israeli settlements – all illegal under international law – located directly in the city center of al-Khalil.
The settlements on Shuhada Street are connected via a settler-only road to the much larger settlement of Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of al-Khalil; settlers can also reach the illegal Tel Rumeida settlement easily by traversing the tiny stretch of Shuhada Street still open to some Palestinians and the road leading up into Tel Rumeida from Shuhada checkpoint, now encompassed within the closed military zone. While Palestinians are allowed to walk on this part of Shuhada Street, Palestinian vehicles, including ambulances, are forbidden from driving there. Since Israeli authorities declared the area part of a closed military zone on 1st November 2015, the already barely existent access has been further restricted – Isreali forces only allow entry to Palestinians registered with them residents, while any Israeli settler, regardless of whether they are residents or not, can pass freely and without ever being harassed, stopped, detained, arrested, or threatened by the ever-present military forces.
At the line demarcated by Daboya checkpoint (Checkpoint 55), where the illegal settlements on the street begin and Palestinians are no longer allowed, a steep flight of stairs leads up to Qurtuba school and into the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood. These stairs, the only way for Palestinians to continue traveling in the same direction above the street as they are not allowed to continue down Shuhada Street itself, have been closed by the Israeli forces with a metal gate since November 2015.
Even though this gate is currently not locked, Israeli forces deny any Palestinian, except for the students and teachers of Qurtuba school during school-time, to use these stairs. As a result Palestinian residents of this neighbourhood, once they have passed Shuhada checkpoint – an ordeal that can take several hours – have been denied to reach their homes by walking down Shuhada Street and the stairs leading up to Qurtuba school, forcing them instead to take a much longer detour around. With yet another way denied for Palestinans, navigating the maze of Israeli military-enforced checkpoints, complete bans on travel, roads where Palestinians cannot drive, settler-only roads, closed military zones and new arbitrary closures has become even more arduous.
Israeli forces are thereby also clearly working to minimise the number of Palestinians who will actually use this last portion of Shuhada Street – now a complete dead-end – as they bar Palestinians not only from going farther down the closed street but also declare the stairs, formerly an alternate route, yet another closed zone. This illustrates the Israeli attempts to rid Shuhada Street entirely of Palestinians. Ethnic cleansing in al-Khalil, and all across Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands is not a sudden, headline-grabbing event; it progresses gradually as Palestinians are restricted in certain areas, barred from driving there, prohibited from even being there, forced out to facilitate the expansion of the illegal settlements. Ethnic cleansing happens slowly, by erecting new and ‘fortifying’ existing checkpoints, advancing one more closure at a time.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On the 28th of February around 4:00pm, 12 year old Palestinian boy, Sayed Seder was arrested by 10 heavily armed Israeli soldiers whilst playing football with his friends on the street in front of his family home. The Israeli army claim that he was arrested under allegations he was throwing stones at the guard tower which watches over Al-Shallalah Street and the illegal Israeli settlement that has been built directly behind the street and family home.
Sayed’s father, Abed, went down to confront the soldiers after Sayed’s friends came running up to the family home, explaining to the father what was happening.
When Abed approached the soldiers to ask them what exactly they were arresting his son for, the soldiers responded by informing him that it was because he was seen throwing rocks at the guard tower above. However, the street is lined with a protective type of fencing above the shops roofs that prohibits objects being thrown up or in the most common cases, being thrown down by illegal Israeli settlers who live above. Abed put the argument forward that it would have been pointless for his son to have been throwing stones with this protective barrier in place. Perhaps the logic of this made too much sense and the arresting soldier quickly changed his story and then began to tell Abed his son was being arrested for stealing a settler child’s football whilst pointing to the ball that Sayed and his friends were playing with. Abed informed the soldier that the ball Sayed and his friends were playing with was in fact a ball that he had purchased for Sayed from a shop in Halhoul just recently. The soldier who was evidently lying and knowingly falsely accusing Sayed of the above allegations ignored any more of Abed’s protests and continued to arrest Sayed.
From this point Sayed was marched to the Shuhada street entrance gate and taken through while his parents and friends were forced to stand back and watch. Sayed was then taken to the local military base on Shuhada street. Upon entering the military base he was reportedly handcuffed and blindfolded. The blindfold remained on for around 30 minutes before being taken off, assuming that it was put on so he could not get a full view of what was happening inside the military compound for security purposes. Sayed alleges that teenage settlers who were allowed into the compound then beat him while the Israeli army simply stood back and did nothing.
Sayed was later released from custody at around 9pm to Palestinian authorities where he complained of pain in his kidneys. His father arrived shortly after and took Sayed to hospital where doctors examined him. While the doctors could not find physical wounds that would require further attention they did note that Sayed was severely traumatised from the event and was in a state of shock.
Just 3 months ago the Israeli army arrested one of Abed’s other sons who is 10 years old. The reason for the arrest was that he too was suspected of throwing stones at the military. As Abed didn’t believe this and objected he too was arrested with his 10 year old son. They were detained for 6 hours and released without charge.
One significant fact is that Abed’s house backs onto the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Hadasa. Abed used to sell artisans out of the family home but has had to stop because of ongoing harassment both physical and verbal to himself and to his customers from the settlers that occupy the land next to his home. The front of Abed’s house has been covered in barbed wire by the Israeli military and is adorned with bags of dirty hummus, eggs and other foul items thrown down by the illegal settlers. The army has also boarded up the windows of his family home (without his permission) that overlook Beit Hadasa.
While harassment from the settlers in Hebron is often considered an unfortunate normality to most Palestinians living under occupation, the army’s continued bogus charges and harassment of Abed and his family give one the impression that the Zionist regime is using a tactical ploy to get Abed and his family out of their home for further settlement expansion.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On the 25th of February 1994, a US citizen residing in the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement entered the Ibrahimi mosque in the early morning during the month of Ramadan. Baruch Goldstein, dressed in his army uniform, opened fire on the Palestinians that were crammed inside for the prayer. He killed 29 men and boys and injured dozens before people overpowered him and beat him to death.
That day, many more Palestinians were killed in Hebron during riots protesting the massacre that had occurred, in front of the mosque and the hospital where the injured were treated, as well as in the cemetery were the dead were being buried. In the next few days, protests and marches happened all over the West Bank and across historic Palestine. It is believed that in total, in these few days, 50 to 70 Palestinians were killed, and over 250 were injured.
Immediately after the attack, the Israeli government released a statement condemning this act and affirming that Goldstein was acting on his own behalf. The Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin called Goldstein a “degenerate murderer, a shame on Zionism and an embarrassment to Judaism.” Rabin always affirmed that Goldstein acted on his own behalf and that the Israeli military had no knowledge of his plans. Though his act was condemned, it resulted in many measures that mostly impacted on Palestinians. Instead of evacuating the settlements of Hebron, only a few of the most extreme settlers were temporarily disarmed.
A round-the-clock curfew was imposed. Shops in Shuhada Street were forced shut by the Israeli army, on the pretext of keeping settlers safe on this commercial artery. Many other shops also had to close due to lack of supplies and customers. New checkpoints were installed. Palestinians were first banned from driving and then simply from accessing most of Shuhada Street. Many of these measures resulted in the displacement of many Palestinian families.
In 1997, a protocol was signed between Israel and the PLO, dividing Hebron into two areas: “H1”, controlled by Israeli forces, and “H2”, under Palestinian control. It called for the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from the H1, which represented 80% of the city. To this day, even though H1 is officially controlled by the Palestinian Authority, it remains under overall Israeli control, while H2 is now the home to many violent and extremist settlers. Some of them still go every year to the tomb of Baruch Goldstein to celebrate his treacherous act of murder.
22 years later, all measures that were declared in Hebron on the 25th of February, 1994 are still enforced, except for the curfew. And settlers are more than ever taking over the city, with the compliance of the Israeli government.
The last tiny bit of Shuhada Street, that was not (yet) declared a ‘sterile zone’ and thus been completely barred for Palestinians, has been under repeated ‘closed military zone’ orders since 1st November 2015. Whereas the majority of Shuhada Street has been completely unaccessible for Palestinians, the tiny strip leading from the recently ‘renovated’ Shuhada checkpoint up to the illegal Beit Hadassah settlement, is slowly resembling a ‘ghost street’ more and more, as only Palestinians registered with the Israeli army are allowed to go there.
The closed military zone order is an illegal collective punishment on the whole Palestinian population of this area, that was forced to register in order to be allowed to live in their own houses whereas settlers in the adjacent illegall settlements can walk the roads freely and completely undisturbed. This clearly is just another step in the Israeli policy of making life for Palestinians as hard and humiliating as possible in an attempt to make them leave the area and eventually drive all of them out and connect the settlements.
Every year, Palestinians in occupied al-Khalil commemorate the Ibrahimi mosque massacre and protest against the closure of Shuhada Street and the illegal Israeli occupation. The week, leading up to the 22nd anniversary of the massacre, has seen and will continue to see creative activities and demonstrations. This past week there were also many commemorations of Palestinians, most of whom have been gunned down by Israeli forces and left to bleed to death without any medical help.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On 20th February 2016, the Hebron Defence Committee organised a demonstration under the motto ‘Dismantle the Ghetto, take the settlers out of Hebron’ in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). Israeli forces attacked the peaceful demonstration with stun grenades and arrested several activists.
The demonstration started after the noon-prayer at Ali Bakr mosque and peacefully marched towards the entrance to Shuhada Street in the Palestinian market, chanting against occupation and for their freedom. Once the peaceful march reached Bab al-Baladiyya in the Old City of al-Khalil, Israeli forces quickly started gathering behind the gates that lead directly onto Shuhada Street – that has been closed off for Palestinians since the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994.
As the Palestinian, Israeli and international activists joined hands in trying to take down the military gate that locks off the access to Shuhada Street for Palestinians, allowing exclusive use for settlers from the illegal settlements only, the Israeli forces suddenly attacked the protestors throwing more than a dozen stun grenades at the crowd of people. While the demonstrators were running for cover, trying to avoid being hit by the stun grenades, the Israeli forces unlocked the military gate and came running into the Palestinian market.
Israeli forces arrested a total of 12 activists from Hithabrut – Tarabut group and moved them to the Police station for interrogation. While 8 where released, 4 were charged with attacking officers.
As can be seen on this video, Israeli forces attacked several protestors, beating them and threw stun grenades directly at the press – that was visible wearing flag-jackets and helmets reading ‘press’.
The demonstration was held in commemoration of the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, in which extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians and injured more than 120 when he opened fire on whorshippers inside the Ibrahimi mosque.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On Tuesday, February 9, Israeli forces patrolled the Palestinian market in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), harassing and intimidating residents.
A group of soldiers marched through the souq, the main Palestinian market since the closure of Shuhada Street for Palestinians after the Ibrahimi mosque massacre in 1994. Any male adult or youth was stopped on their way to work and forced by the Israeli soldiers to lift up their shirts and trouser-pants, as well as throw their IDs on the ground. After throwing their IDs on the ground Israeli soldiers ordered the men to move back, so they could pick up the IDs from a ‘safe distance’. Most Palestinians were dismissed after this humiliating procedure, whereas some of them were detained for minutes or violently body-searched.
International human rights defenders documenting the Israeli forces violations of basic human rights of Palestinians, were intimidated and harassed by the Israeli soldiers in an attempt to prevent them from documenting. Soldiers took photos of the internationals with their private phones held right in the volunteers faces and as an intmidation tactic ID-checked them.
During the more than one hour patrol Israeli forces repeatedly pointed their assault rifles at the internationals as well as Palestinians.
Not only adults were surprised and shocked by the sudden presence of heavily-armed soldiers right outside their houses, but also children on their way to school and work. Some children, scared by the soldiers, turned around right away after spotting the soldiers and ran back home instead of continuing their way to school or kindergarten. International human rights defenders walked several scared children past the soldiers so they could safely reach their schools and kindergarten.