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Israeli army makes post in Hebron activist house

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Early Saturday morning Issa Amro, 35, awoke to dozens of Israeli soldiers entering his house, which contains offices of the activist group Youth Against Settlements. The soldiers presented him with a military order to seize control of the Hebron house for 24 hours. Amro, along with an Italian journalist on assignment with an Israeli paper and two international activists who were staying at the Youth Against Settlements advocacy center, were then ushered into a single bedroom where, with the exception of escorted bathroom breaks, they were forced to stay until after daybreak Sunday.

At the same time, between 20 and 25 soldiers also entered the neighboring house belonging to the Abu Talal family. Two parents and three children were similarly moved into one room until the following day.

“I managed to hide one of my phones, I was writing to journalists and talking to them to try to get them to request the Israeli government leave the house,” Amro said. Amro’s other cellphone and computer were confiscated, along with those belonging to the three foreign nationals held inside of the stone building in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron.

The four stayed awake overnight, sending updates on the concealed phone as a method of keeping busy. “I was afraid during the night,” Amro said, “You know, you’re stuck in a room and there are many soldiers around you with guns and you don’t know what they are thinking.” Meanwhile soldiers rummaged through the house, and an office/studio on the second floor breaking camera equipment. When the Israeli forces departed Sunday morning, one officer told Amro he could file for a reimbursement.

“I told him I won’t ask for compensation from occupation,” said Amro.

Israeli soldiers entering the Youth Against Settlements' house in Hebron early Saturday morning. (Photo: Youth Against Settlements)

Israeli soldiers entering the Youth Against Settlements’ house in Hebron early Saturday morning. (Photo: Youth Against Settlements)

Israeli settlers and soldiers gathered outside of the Youth Against Settlements house in Hebron, Saturday afternoon. (Photo: Youth Against Settlements)

Israeli settlers and soldiers gathered outside of the Youth Against Settlements house in Hebron, Saturday afternoon. (Photo: Youth Against Settlements)

The bedroom where the four were held does have windows, but metal shades were drawn keeping the group blind to events taking place outside the front door. A few hours into their confinement, shortly before noon, nearly 1,000 Israelis gathered and started chanting in Hebrew “the Jewish nation lives,” “death to Arabs” and insults to Islam’s prophet.

“They were rejoicing, they were happy and singing, and greeting the soldiers as they took over our house,” said Amro.

“I heard voices, and I heard the sound grenades,” Amro noted of commotion that broke out when a group of Palestinians living nearby also came to the area, calling out in Arabic, “Hey settlers, get out.” The masses stayed until sunset, when the settlers headed downhill toward Hebron’s Old City.

Standing among the crowd, Amro’s colleague Sohabi Zahda, 32, saw the settlers re-group at nightfall outside of the Ibrahimi Mosque or Cave of the Patriarchs, a split Jewish and Islamic holy site that serves as a mosque and as the resting place for the tombs of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the old testament and the Qur’an.

Much like recent religious tensions over the compound of the al-Asqa mosque in Jerusalem, dueling faith claims over Hebron’s sacred sites has caused the Ibrahimi Mosque to be the site of violence. In 1994 Jewish extremist Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim worshippers during morning prayer, killing 29 and injuring another 125 before he was killed.

In the aftermath of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, the Israeli army ordered the closure of Shuhada Street, a central roadway in Hebron that has since been transformed into a settler stronghold– and a ghost town for Palestinians.

In communication via the clandestine mobile phone, Amro told Zahda late Saturday that the four trapped in the bedroom of the Youth Against Settlements’ house had not eaten or drank since the army entered. Amro then coordinated with the IDF in the next room over—“sometimes the soldiers were peeking into the room, sometimes the door was open”—to get an OK for Zahda to deliver sandwiches, wraps and cookies.

“They didn’t allow me to enter the house; when I arrived at the door the soldiers took the food,” Zahda said. Everyone ate, except for Amro.

“I announced that I would be on a hunger strike, I thought that the army wouldn’t be in the house for one day, I thought that maybe they would stay for weeks,” said Amro of his one-man protest.

Hebron is the West Bank’s largest city with more than 200,000 Palestinian residents. Israelis first established a settlement in Hebron on Passover of 1968 under the stewardship of the extremist organization Gush Emunim. They viewed their community as a revitalization of a Jewish presence in the city that had been suspended after a 1929 massacre in which 66 Jews were killed during the height of the Arab riots that year.

The presence of settlers in the heart of Hebron has since grown from a handful at the start of Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank to nearly one thousand who reside inside of H2, the inner fifth of the city, which is under full Israeli security control per the Hebron Protocol of the Oslo Accords.

In late October the Israeli military ordered a closed military zone over all of H2, preventing the entry and exit of Palestinians not registered as residents. In the days preceding the declaration Palestinians were required to obtain a resident number as proof for passage.

Yet some did not comply with the edict.

“No, I refused to register. I told them I am not a number, I am a human being,” said Amro, who now travels in and out of the quarter through fields that buffer the outskirts of Hebron in order to bypass Israeli checkpoints. 

Israeli soldiers commandeering Palestinian houses in the West Bank was common practice during both Intifadas, or uprisings, over the past three decades. More recently soldiers took control of Palestinian homes and a school outside of Hebron last spring during Operation Brother’s Keeper, an army search to retrieve three Israelis youths who were abducted and killed by self-identified Hamas cell in the West Bank.

A spokesperson for the Israeli army said that from October 1st to November 1st Palestinians from Hebron carried out or attempted 24 attacks against Israeli civilians and police, 14 of which were inside of the city of Hebron, killing one Israeli.

 

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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16 Responses

  1. annie
    annie on November 9, 2015, 12:50 pm

    so the iof facilitates 1000 settlers having an incitement field day chanting racist slogans by personally pre imprisoning the monitoring group they knew would be filming the incitement. how helpful!

    • a blah chick
      a blah chick on November 9, 2015, 2:10 pm

      Annie, did you see that picture over the weekend of that Tamara girl? She was arrested last week for a Facebook posting and they brought her to court in hand cuffs and LEG cuffs.

      She’s FOURTEEN! Vile.

  2. eljay
    eljay on November 9, 2015, 1:02 pm

    Israeli soldiers inside of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements office/living quarters …

    They look more like spoiled little supremacist pukes in camouflage outfits and grease paint, pretending to be soldiers and secure in the knowledge that they can murder with impunity.

  3. Ossinev
    Ossinev on November 9, 2015, 1:55 pm

    Meanwhile reports are filtering out from Washington that Obama has agreed to a substantial boost to the Israel military aid package. A large proportion of this will be used to fund the latest state of the art high tech doorbusters with infra red technology. The IDF have been complaining for years apparently of Palestinian “splinter terrorism”. This is because the doors of Palestinian homes in the West Bank are deliberately made of cheap wood so that when IDF elite “homebuster” unit soldiers break down the doors in the dark at 3.00 am in the morning they are increasingly at risk from serious splinter attacks involving one or more fingers. These according to personal testimonies from the soldiers are excruciatingly painful and can lead to shock and severe PTSD. It has been claimed that use of the new equipment will lead to a dramatic reduction in these “splinter terror attacks”. A significant proportion of the package will also be devoted to the purchase of “screambusters”. These are the most advanced ear defenders in the world and will be used to counter Palestinian “maternal noise terrorism” which is also on the increase apparently due to more and more Palestinian mothers deliberately screaming when groups of blackened up elite” homebuster” soldiers break down the doors of their homes at 3.00 am in the morning , ransack and trash the interiors and drag away their 12 year old sons and daughters on suspicion of being young Palestinians.The screaming has led to a surge in the levels of life threatening headaches and migraines being reported by the soldiers.

    A White House source, on condition of his ignominy being ignored , stated that the US had a duty to help to ensure that young brave IDF soldiers were properly equipped to deal with these new and frightening forms of terrorism.He accepted that this enhanced aid package would have an adverse affect on the ability of the US to upgrade its own military equipment but that the security of Israel was the nation`s absolute priority.

  4. a blah chick
    a blah chick on November 9, 2015, 2:05 pm

    This is why they are going to keep getting their asses kicked in Lebanon and Gaza.. The only people they know how to fight aren’t allowed to fight back.

    • Steve Grover
      Steve Grover on November 9, 2015, 10:00 pm

      OK a blah chick,
      Lets see who’s ass get kicked if trouble is started from Hamas or Hezbollah or any other terrorist group in Lebanon or Gaza.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on November 10, 2015, 12:15 pm

        “Lets see who’s ass get kicked if trouble is started from Hamas or Hezbollah or any other terrorist group in Lebanon or Gaza.”

        SQUELCH!!!, to begin with! And BTW, “Steve Grover” just how many Jewish lives are you prepared to lose in that fight? Would you like to pick them out, and send them into battle yourself?

        This, my friends, is a stark evocation of the dual-loyalty problems Israel faces. Americans (and others) who take none of the risk, push Israel ever further to the right, yet are more than glad to dispense with the lives of Jews. No country can survive dual-loyalty like that, certainly not Israel. But then, Israel can’t stand on its own.

      • James North
        James North on November 10, 2015, 12:48 pm

        Moose: “Grober” sounds like one of those Americans who are willing to fight to the last Israeli.

      • John O
        John O on November 10, 2015, 12:27 pm

        In 2006, Hezbollah fought the invading IDF to a standstill and sent them homeward to think again (as the unofficial Scottish national anthem puts it).

      • Mooser
        Mooser on November 10, 2015, 1:11 pm

        “Moose: “Grober” sounds like one of those Americans who are willing to fight to the last Israeli.”

        Or even all the way to the “last call”!

  5. a blah chick
    a blah chick on November 9, 2015, 2:15 pm

    Can anyone tell me why they’re wearing camouflage make-up? Who are they trying to hide from?

    Somebody ask hopmi, he’s always got an answer for everything.

    • Steve Grover
      Steve Grover on November 9, 2015, 9:54 pm

      a blah chick asks:
      “Can anyone tell me why they’re wearing camouflage make-up?”
      So they don’t look blah to you.

  6. Qualtrough
    Qualtrough on November 9, 2015, 10:51 pm

    This should sound very familiar to American readers:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartering_Acts

  7. WTraveler
    WTraveler on November 10, 2015, 8:51 am

    As an American who has spent time in the occupied West Bank and in al-Khalil (aka Hebron), I am deeply disgusted and appalled with the brutal tactics of the IDF which my tax dollars pays for. The Jewish people suffered horrendously during the Holocaust and Nazi occupation, and now a few decades later are meting out much of the same actions against non-violent Palestinian activists and civilians.
    A growing number of Americans are shocked and outraged at the actions of the IDF and Netanyahu regime; interestingly, this includes many Americans Jews.

    I wonder how Israelis in Tel Aviv or Haifa would respond if a foreign army burst into their home at night and treated the family like animals, broke their furniture, cameras, seized computers, etc? This would be promptly condemned as “terrorism”; however, when the IDF (aka “most moral army in the world”) does this, this is called self defense and fighting “terrorists.” The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is conducting a preliminary investigation into Israeli war crimes. I do hope that Netanyahu is held accountable for his crimes against humanity.

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