24 September 2013
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Settlers re-occupy Abu Rajib house
On 23 September 2013, in response to the death of Israeli
soldier Staff Sgt. Gal Kobi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for
illegal settlement expansion in the Old City of Hebron.
At 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday 24 September, the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron received reports from the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee that Israeli settlers had re-occupied the Abu Rajib house west of the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Settlers had been evicted from the building in April of 2012.
The resettlement of the Abu Rajib house is a direct and significant risk to the community of Hebron, international law, and human rights, as settlements are illegal under international law and impede the ongoing peace process.
In addition to the illegality of the settlement, the location of Abu Rajib will constitute a severe threat to the freedom of movement for Palestinians. The house sits between two Palestinian Schools and Israeli military checkpoint 209, which CPT monitors every morning as part of its school patrol. If the settlement remains, it will be in the middle of an area hundreds of Palestinian children must pass each morning to attend classes.
Over the past week of the Jewish holiday of Sukkoth, the Israeli military has increased its presence with additional soldiers on the ground, occupying Palestinian homes and turning them into military outposts in and around the area of the Abu Rajib house. As a result, school attendance at Al-Faihaa girl’s school and Al-Ibrahimmiye has dropped.
On Monday, 23 September, the Al-Faihaa girl’s school was shut down completely since so few students were able to attend classes. The added Israeli military presence installed around the settlement will continue this trend.
Israeli settlement expansion has led to several cases of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, including near the settlement of Tel Rumeida.
"For the residents of Tel Rumeida, living next to settlers means living under constant threat of attack,” said a representative from the human rights observer organization, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). “The Abu Shamsiyeh family who live in Tel Rumeida is particularly vulnerable to attacks, as settlers and Jewish tourists tend to enter their roof and even invade their garden without permission. Most use this private Palestinian roof to enjoy the view of the city, but incidents have occurred where settlers threw stones and garbage down at the family, urinating into their garden and verbally harassing the family.
“Last month, settler youth entered the family's garden, threw stones at them, and beat their thirteen-year old son. When Abu Shamsiyeh asked the soldier stationed outside their house for help, he came down and watched as settlers kicked Abu Shamsiyeh, and another soldier pushed his wife, who was videoing the incident, to the ground.”
If the Abu Rajib settlement is allowed to stay, in breach of international law and during the ongoing peace negotiations, the rise in settler violence against Palestinian youth and adults will escalate.