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‘This is not looking for the missing settlers, it is just trying to punish us’: A report from ten days of lockdown in Hebron

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IDF soldiers search two cars at a flying checkpoint near the intersection the three Israeli settlers went missing on June 12th (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

IDF soldiers search two cars at a flying checkpoint near the intersection the three Israeli settlers went missing on June 12th (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

As the search for the three missing teenage settlers intensifies, the city of Hebron continues to experience complete lockdown. Checkpoints are set up across the district, barring any residents from leaving Hebron. These checkpoints are additional to the previous ones that have been in place for years. Generally checkpoints aren’t found in Area A (the 18% of the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Authority has control over) but since the search for the three missing settlers has launched, checkpoints have been set up at the entrances to Area A in Hebron and other districts, as well as flying (temporary roadblock) checkpoints within Area A roads in the middle of Palestinian cities and towns.

IDF soldier talks on her phone while cars wait to exit Hebron at a new Area A entrance checkpoint. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

IDF soldier talks on her phone while cars wait to exit Hebron at a new Area A entrance checkpoint. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Protests against the siege of the city have become frequent, and injuries and arrests are common. Hebron was the first city and district to feel the force of the army’s crackdown ten days ago, however other population areas throughout the occupied West Bank are now beginning to experience similar tactics. Currently over 350 Palestinians have been arrested in the West Bank and five Palestinians have been shot dead. Normal life in Hebron, which due to military occupation and the placement of an illegal Israeli settlement within the city center, has always been difficult, but this week life has become even more grim and problematic.

A woman walks by a burning tire in the city center, trying to avoid the clashes. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

A woman walks by a burning tire in the city center, trying to avoid the clashes. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Shabaab wait for IDF to emerge at the entrance to the illegal Israeli settlement situated along Shuhada Street. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Shabaab wait for IDF to emerge at the entrance to the illegal Israeli settlement situated along Shuhada Street. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

On Friday, Hebron’s city center erupted in clashes between the shabaab (young men), and Israeli Defense Force (IDF). While protests and clashes with the IDF are common in the West Bank, they usually occur in the small villages outlying larger cities, and seldom happen in the center of Palestinian cities. However now with soldiers frequently making trips into Hebron city center along with the thousands of soldiers being deployed throughout the whole district, the atmosphere is tense.  Friday’s clash in the center of Hebron lasted for over four hours; a ten-year-old boy was arrested, along with a young man, while soldiers opened live fire on protestors. 

A young boy pushes a makeshift scrap metal barrier for protection from the IDF. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

A young boy pushes a makeshift scrap metal barrier for protection from the IDF. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Shabaab push dumpster through the street to use as a makeshift barrier. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Shabaab push dumpster through the street to use as a makeshift barrier. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Israeli soldiers patrol city center. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Israeli soldiers patrol city center. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Now raids on houses have become commonplace. In the village of al-Dura a few kilometers from Hebron, a 14 year-old-boy was killed by live ammunition to the chest during one of these night raids. With every day bringing uncertainty around Israel’s next move, it appears the only constant is knowing that the arrests, night raids, and the crackdown will most likely continue.

“The soldiers are now everywhere” Mohammed Rabah, who lives in Halhul in the Hebron district, said. “Last night they were occupying and sleeping in the masjid [mosque] and using it as a base. Every day they are throwing so much gas, raiding people’s homes and arresting people. Yesterday they broke into my cousin’s house and pointed their guns at her and her two year old daughter. I think this is not right, this not looking for the missing settlers, it is just trying to punish us.”

Young man shot in the ankle with live fire during clashes in Hebron city center. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Young man shot in the ankle with live fire during clashes in Hebron city center. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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21 Responses

  1. seafoid on June 23, 2014, 11:58 am

    10 days of lockdown = pauperization program.
    No economic interaction with other parts of the West Bank. Another attempt by the Bots to get the Palestinians to do as they are told , for their own good, in Erez Israel Hashlemah.

  2. jenin on June 23, 2014, 12:20 pm

    my dad is currently visiting his family in his village near Nablus, I am so worried about him (and them). I will definitely feel very relieved when I hear he’s safely back in Amman.

    • Shmuel on June 23, 2014, 12:46 pm

      jenin,
      May he and they stay safe.

    • Kay24 on June 23, 2014, 1:34 pm

      Hope they are all safe, and that your father will return soon, safe and sound.
      Good luck to all Palestinians, they are amazingly resilient, and have shown
      so much of patience. Great people.

    • just on June 23, 2014, 2:04 pm

      {{jenin and family}}

      I hope this brutal siege,the murders and the filthy Occupation ends soon and finally. Israel is morally bankrupt, and deserves shunning.

      Thanks for your report and the pictures, Sheren. I retched at the picture of the female IOF’er on the phone and smiling………

      Please stay safe!

  3. Susie Kneedler on June 23, 2014, 12:47 pm

    Oh, jenin, I’m sorry, and heartsick for all. Thanks for telling us: All Best to you and to Palestine.

  4. jenin on June 23, 2014, 2:34 pm

    thanks all for the kind wishes. I am so sorry for everyone in the West Bank, and especially for those families who have lost their loved ones to yet more brutality from the IOF.

    • bintbiba on June 23, 2014, 5:05 pm

      jenin habibti , stay strong and head high. I hope you get news of the family’s safety very soon.

  5. seafoid on June 23, 2014, 4:41 pm

    Israel plays fast and loose with the lives of individual Jews in order to fetishise THE LAND. Say the 3 settlers were kidnapped. Trashing the West Bank is hardly in their interest.

    Remember all the soldiers who died defending the settlement of Netzarim in Gaza?
    For what ?

  6. Zach S on June 24, 2014, 9:14 am

    Two out of three of the missing teenagers are not settlers.

    I thought this site claimed to have journalistic integrity?

    • Woody Tanaka on June 24, 2014, 9:36 am

      “Two out of three of the missing teenagers are not settlers.”

      Bull. They’re attending an indoctrination school for religious extremists on stolen Palestinian land. That makes them settlers, regardless of where their parents live.

      • Zach S on June 24, 2014, 10:25 am

        Woody, a settler is defined by where he lives. Every other news agency makes a clear distinction between Israelis who live in settlements and those who do not. Apparently this site is special and doesn’t feel the need to report the same facts as everyone else.

      • Woody Tanaka on June 24, 2014, 10:45 am

        Zach S,

        It might benefit the Zionists to define “settler” that way, but that is a reason to reject that definition. I don’t agree with Israeli’s false definition, because it purposefully limits the damage done to the Palestinians by, for example, excusing these little religious-nuts-in-training, simply because their parents live on land stolen before 1948, rather than after 1967. I prefer one that takes into account the reality on the ground. These males acted like settlers by not asking the Palestinians for permission to attend thier indoctrination center, which was on stolen Palestinian land, so they should get treated like settlers, no different than any of the other squatters and criminals.

      • Zach S on June 24, 2014, 11:12 am

        Woody: you are the only person who considers Israeli Jews who attend school in the West Bank to be settlers. Everyone else (besides Mondoweiss apparently) uses the accepted definition of Israeli Jews who live in the West Bank.

        Perhaps the Mondoweiss editors could provide us with their editorial definition of who is and is not a settler. Until then, they should use the common definition and not seek to mislead their audience.

    • Shmuel on June 24, 2014, 10:29 am

      Two out of three of the missing teenagers are not settlers.

      All three study in the OT (2 in Kfar Etzion, 1 in Hebron), and only one family for certain lives beyond the Green Line (the Shaer family, in Talmon). The Yifrahs live in Elad (Israeli side of Green Line) and the Frankels live in Nof Ayalon, which straddles the Green Line (in the Latrun salient). According to Zochrot, Both Elad and Nof Ayalon/Sha’alvim sit on ethnically-cleansed Palestinian land (the villages of Muzayri’a and Salbit/Bayt Shanna, respectively).

      • just on June 24, 2014, 10:32 am

        Thanks Shmuel.

      • Zach S on June 24, 2014, 10:39 am

        Thank you for confirming that two out of three of the kidnapped teenagers are not settlers, as they live to the west of the Green Line.

        This article should be updated to reflect that and a correction should be placed at the bottom.

      • Woody Tanaka on June 24, 2014, 10:48 am

        “Thank you for confirming that two out of three of the kidnapped teenagers are not settlers, as they live to the west of the Green Line.”

        Where they live is irrelevant. They’re settlers because they attended school on occupied Palestinian lands. Hence, they’re settlers.

  7. just on June 24, 2014, 10:41 am

    Zach– Are you the new editor at MW?

    You missed the entire point as usual…

    • Zach S on June 24, 2014, 10:43 am

      Are you the new editor at MW?

      No, though apparently it could use one if obvious mistakes like that keep getting through.

      You missed the entire point as usual…

      Is the point that this site has trouble getting their facts straight, even more than a week after the story broke? Because I think that point has been very well established, thanks.

      • Woody Tanaka on June 24, 2014, 11:05 am

        “No, though apparently it could use one if obvious mistakes like that keep getting through.”

        Refusing to agree with the propagandistic definition of “settler” you and Israel are trying to push does not constitute a mistake of any kind. It shows good judgment.

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