27 June 2013
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) NEWS: Updates on settler road expansion, situation of South Hebron Hills villagers threatened with expulsion, settler vandalism in Hebron market, and more.
[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal.]
|CPT is monitoring the construction of a settler road that
has cut through the middle of Palestinian agricultural land in Wadi Al-Hussein,
on the east side of Hebron's Old City, without the permission of the
Palestinian landowner. Construction began on 17 June. The road will create a shortcut from a southwest entrance of
the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba to the "Prayers' Road," which
connects settlers with an Israeli tourist park and synagogue at the Tomb of the
Patriarchs (also called the Ibrahimi Mosque). The road will effectively
confiscate a slice of Wadi Al-Hussein, which Israel may then annex to Kiryat
CPT is also monitoring an evacuated Palestinian apartment block (see photo above), built by the Al-Rajabi Family, because its ownership is being disputed in Israeli courts, with Israeli settlers trying to prove that the owner sold them this building, which he denies. A settler takeover of the building (as already happened briefly before the Israeli military evicted settlers) would effectively blaze a more unrestricted corridor from Kiryat Arba to the synagogue and tourism center where tradition holds that that the biblical patriarch Abraham is buried. Like the new road, it would impose even harsher movement restrictions on Palestinians, and expose Palestinian families to even higher levels of settler violence.
Anxiety overwhelms 1,000 Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills as a 15 July Israeli court decision approaches, which will determine whether the Israeli army can forcibly expel them.
For the past two weeks, several international human rights monitoring groups, including CPT, have launched an effort to provide a more continuous presence in villages of Masafer Yatta (labeled in red above) that the Israeli military has slated for imminent forcible expulsion. The military intends to exploit more fully the area for training, designating it as "Firing Zone 918" (white area above). The action threatens more than 1,000 residents (60% of them women and children), whom the military falsely claims are seasonal or nomadic inhabitants. More than 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) of Palestinian cropland and 12,000 head of livestock lie within the zone.
For years the military has already carried out daily live fire training around the villages with troops, tanks, artillery and helicopters, often terrorizing villagers with night raids inside their homes, and littering the fields with hazardous unexploded ordnance. The villages of Jinba, Mirkez, Halaweh and Al-Majaz are in particular peril, with fifty-two of their structures under demolition orders, and with the 1949 Green Line cutting through the fields adjacent to their homes.
CPT and partner groups will now spend days and nights in the Firing Zone for most of each week, prepared to monitor and document the military's abuse of Palestinian residents and their agricultural lands, as well as any demolitions of homes and infrastructure. For further information about the plight of Masafer Yatta, see This Must Be the Place as well as reports by UN-OCHA and B'Tselem.
Repeatedly in the past weeks, residents of the Israeli settlement of Beit Hadassah, located within the Hebron Old City, have vandalized merchandise and assaulted their Palestinian neighbors.
From a multi-storey building directly overshadowing one of Hebron's busiest marketplaces, the settlers of Beit Hadassah have long attempted to maintain an atmosphere of fear and unpredictability for surrounding Palestinian merchants and residents. On 16 June, CPTers visited clothing stores upon which settlers had just thrown plastic bags full of bleach from above. Shopkeepers reported that this thuggish behavior happens frequently. Settlers also spray water from hoses down through windows and courtyards of adjacent homes. Such vandalism damages and destroys merchandise, for which Palestinian family businesses receive no compensation.
For these stories and more, see News from Christian Peacemaker Teams in Palestine.