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Video: Life inside Hebron’s closed military zone

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Muhanned Qafesha, a resident of Tel Rumeida in Hebron, takes Mondoweiss through the arduous journey some residents of the city have been subjected to since Israeli forces made the town a closed military zone in November.

Following the establishment of the closed military zone Israel implemented a new number system in the area. Each household within the zone was given an ID number which is now necessary to be able to access Tel Rumaida. Anyone without a number is barred from entering the town.

Instead of being subjected the military checkpoint, many residents and visitors alike have instead chosen to take a footpath through the muddy back hills of Tel Rumeida to get home. The Israeli checkpoint used to be the most convenient entrance to their town, but now can take hours as Israel “heightens security.”

While the footpath is dangerous, and non-residents taking the path are doing so illegally, Qafesha said many choose to take the alternative entrance out of protest, while others take it because they have no other choice.

Video: Sheren Khalel and Abed al Qaisi
Music: Bakr Khalifa

Editor’s Note: Mondoweiss editors Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz recently visited the same Israeli checkpoint in Hebron and conducted this impromptu interview with a Hebron resident attempting to return home. 

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.

Other posts by .

Abed Al Qaisi

Abed Al Qaisi is a freelance multimedia journalist covering conflict in the Middle East and Europe. Abed has done work for Al Jazeera English, USA Today, Vice News and more.

Other posts by .

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11 Responses

  1. Marnie on January 27, 2016, 10:15 am


    Thank you for these videos –

  2. Kathleen on January 27, 2016, 4:44 pm

    Thank you for the video clips. One can easily imagine how it would be to have some arrogant, sellf consumed fanatics stealing your land that the international community recognizes as belonging to you a Palestinians and your family. Not hard to imagine why Palestinians try to defend their homes, land and families through violent means. The Israeli military and government hh as and continues to be completely complicit in these human rights crimes.

    The settlements should be emptied of these arrogant, self consumed, evil illegal settlers and the buildings should be blown into rubble.

    Since everyone knows that is not going to happen. folks should continue to do everything they can to push for one state. Israel has left no other choice.

  3. Kathleen on January 27, 2016, 8:29 pm

    Why Israel’s Netanyahu has no standing to accuse UN Sec. Ban of inciting Terrorism

    By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke out this week in an address to the UN Security Council against Israel’s policy of stealing Palestinian land in the West Bank (allotted to Palestinians in the 1947 UN General Assembly partition plan that Israelis celebrate so fiercely), and of building ever more squatter homes in occupied Palestine. Ban went on to say that it is natural for Palestinians to resist this assault on their basic human rights. That is, Ban described the Palestinians as wronged and as rational actors:

    “Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process.

    Some have taken me to task for pointing out this indisputable truth.

    Yet, as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.

    So-called facts on the ground in the occupied West Bank are steadily chipping away the viability of a Palestinian state and the ability of Palestinian people to live in dignity.”

    • Marnie on January 27, 2016, 11:21 pm

      Ban Ki-Moon is not backing down from his statements, regardless of Netanyahu’s tantrum with statements such as “the UN secretary general’s comments give terror a tailwind. There is no justification for terror.” What an ass.

      U.N. chief Ban slams Israeli settlements as ‘provocative acts’
      By Michelle Nichols 23 hours ago

      UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday slammed Israel’s settlement activities as “provocative acts” that raise questions about the nation’s commitment to a two-state solution amid growing Palestinian frustration over nearly 50 years of occupation.

      The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. The last round of peace talks broke down in April 2014, and Israeli-Palestinian violence has surged in recent months.

      Israel confirmed on Thursday that it would appropriate a large tract of fertile land in the occupied West Bank. The land is near Jordan in an area where Israel already has many settlement farms built on land Palestinians seek for a state.

      Ban said he was “deeply troubled” by reports that the Israeli government had approved plans for more than 150 new homes in “illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.”

      “These provocative acts are bound to increase the growth of settler populations, further heighten tensions and undermine any prospects for a political road ahead,” Ban told a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East.

      “Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community,” he said. “They rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution.”

      He said frustration was growing among Palestinians.

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed Ban’s remarks, saying they only “bolster terrorism.”

      “The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state; they declare publicly that they want to destroy a state,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “The U.N. has long ago lost its neutrality and its moral powers.”

      U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said Washington strongly opposed settlement activity.

      “Steps aimed at advancing the Israeli settlement program … are fundamentally incompatible with the two-state solution and raise legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions,” Power told the council.

      About 550,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Israeli government and think-tank statistics. About 350,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem and 2.7 million in West Bank.

      Riyad Mansour, the chief Palestinian delegate at the United Nations, called on the Security Council take action against Israeli settlements.

      “It must involve measures by all states and go beyond not rendering aid or assistance to holding Israel accountable for its actions,” Mansour said.

      In news of the ridiculous, “President Barack Obama spoke Wednesday at a special Holocaust ceremony at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C., and said that “anti-Semitism is on the rise, we cannot deny it.”

      “When we see Jews leaving Europe… and attacks on Jewish centers from Mumbai to Kansas; when we see swastikas appear on college campuses, we must not stay silent. “When any Jew anywhere is targeted, we must all respond as if we are all Jewish… we must all do what we can… we have a responsibility, and as president I will make sure the U.S. is leading the fight against anti-Semitism,” the president says.

      That’s absolutely disgusting. America’s first Black president is stonily silent on the daily brutality inflicted on its citizens of African descent. Has he ever claimed “We are all African Americans?” Has he ever even acknowledged Black Lives Matter? Building holocaust memorials across the US has the same logic as building memorials wrt slavery in the US in Sweden.

  4. weiss on January 28, 2016, 2:16 am

    The Hasbara Goon Squad appears to be at a loss for words after this video reality check on the pulse of the street.

    And the tide is turning…

  5. Ossinev on January 28, 2016, 7:31 am

    “When we see Jews leaving Europe… and attacks on Jewish centers from Mumbai to Kansas; when we see swastikas appear on college campuses, we must not stay silent. “When any Jew anywhere is targeted, we must all respond as if we are all Jewish… we must all do what we can… we have a responsibility, and as president I will make sure the U.S. is leading the fight against anti-Semitism,” the president says.”

    Agree that this is absolutely disgusting. Until now I had given Obama the benefit of the doubt if only because of the feeling that he was playing the Washington game in terms of trying to secure a further term for the Democrats.

    It has truly sunk now in that when it comes to confronting the evils which Zionists and Zionism have inflicted and continue to inflict on the Palestinian people he is an abject coward and just as bought and bent as all the Israel firsters in what I used to respect as the Land of the Free.

  6. Katie Miranda on January 28, 2016, 1:03 pm

    This makes me so sad because I lived in Tel Rumeida for 9 months and after that continued to come back every week to teach art to the kids there so I either lived there or was visiting regularly for about 2 and a half years. We had such high hopes back then that we were going to expose the settlers and things would change for the better but they’ve gotten worse. I worked closely with Dawud, Arwa, and Issa. We were always getting called to the Abu Haykal’s house because of soldier invasions but back then they could still access their land. What a tragedy.

  7. gingershot on January 30, 2016, 7:59 pm


    ‘Settlers’ secret deal to buy two houses in Hebron’


    Negotiations began five years ago and included dozens of secret meetings; the payment was made at a Kiryat Arba gas stop: An envelope with money for the deeds to the property on 36 Al-Shuhada Street; now, the Palestinian seller is in hiding with a death sentence over his head, while his son was taken by the PA to pressure him into turning himself in, and the buyers are waiting on the decision: Can they move in?

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