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Palestinians in Hebron plead for international intervention to stop settler violence

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Palestinian activists in Hebron said they are desperate for stronger international intervention during a week-long campaign in commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of the Ibrahimi Massacre.

The campaign started on Feb. 19  with a candlelight vigil held by a local elementary school and ended on Feb. 26  with a memorial at the cemetery where victims of the Ibrahimi Massacre were laid to rest.

The massacre was carried out in 1994 by an American-Israeli settler named Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Palestinian worshippers and wounded 125 more during prayers at the mosque.

Today, like much of Hebron, the mosque is divided into two, with one side used as a synagogue by Israeli settlers and the other as a mosque by the Palestinian community.

Palestinians in Hebron told Mondoweiss that life in Hebron has become unbearable and that international intervention and pressure are the only hope they have to ease the daily tensions and violence carried out by Israeli settlers against the Palestinian community in the city.

In addition to calling for support to end the daily violence experienced by Palestinians in Hebron, community organizers used the week-long initiative to highlight the economic obstacles faced by the local population — particularly those Palestinians with property on Shuhada Street, which was blockaded and closed off to Palestinians following the Ibrahimi Massacre.

In the center of Hebron alone, 500 Palestinian-owned businesses have been shut down by Israeli authorities, and close to 800 additional Palestinian shop owners have been forced to close their business over the last several years due to “economic and social strains caused by roadblocks, checkpoints, and traffic prohibitions,” according to Hithabrut-Tarabut, an Israeli human rights organization.

Farid al-Atrash, the chairman of the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Bethlehem and part of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee who participated in the Hebron campaign called for international intervention. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

Farid al-Atrash, the chairman of the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Bethlehem and part of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee who participated in the Hebron campaign, told Mondoweiss that he feels it is the international community’s responsibility to hold Israel accountable for the “daily violations’ of international law taking place in the city.

“There are many violations of international law here in Hebron, and the international community and international organizations are not doing anything to stop these crimes of discrimination and racism against Palestinians,” al-Atrash said. “We just want to tell the international community what is happening here, and that we have the right to stop this occupation.”

“We are fighting a just cause, we are trying to end the occupation and get our human rights, our city and our country back and bring the occupation government to justice for their illegal actions and crimes, but we need international support,” he continued.

Friday was the largest day of demonstrations during the week-long campaign, with foreign organizations as well as left-wing Israeli activists taking part in the protest.

Before dawn on Friday, Israeli forces showed up at the home of Badee Dwaik, the Coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Group in Palestine and an activist in Hebron. Dwaik told Mondoweiss Israeli forces stormed the building he lives in with seven other families the morning before the protest and threatened him.

“The army came and invaded my home around one in the morning,” he said. “My brother opened the door and he was arguing with the soldiers, who asked him to wake up the entire building and bring everyone outside, but he argued that we have women and children in the building and that’s when I came out with my camera to document what was happening.”

When Israeli forces spotted Dwaik, they told him they were raiding the building specifically to find him. They took his camera, and isolated him in a corner before warning him to cancel the protest.

“They told me they came to the house just for me, to give me a message,” Dwaik said. “They said if anything happens at the protest today, they would come back and arrest me. I asked them why, and they said that I am one of the leaders of this week’s campaign and I should stop the protest.”

“I told them, listen, if you have any legal reason to arrest me, you can arrest me now, but they just wanted to threaten me,” he said. “There was a few other organizers who said they used the same intimidation tactic against them as well.”

Dwaik told Mondoweiss that Israeli forces using such tactics against Palestinians was common, but he felt it was his “duty” to continue with the protest, despite the threats.

“I’ve been arrested many times, this wasn’t a surprise for me. I have been detained, I have been shot at, but they will never silence us,” he said. “We are here raising our voice in a peaceful demonstration, not to be hurt or to be taken to prison — we like freedom, we like life, and we just want our children to grow up in a peaceful city without settlers and without soldiers and for that to happen we need the international community to put pressure on Israel and for the international community to help Palestinians make sure international law is being implemented, and that is why we are here this week demonstrating.”

Israeli and foreign activists joined Palestinian demonstrators during the march. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

The march, which saw hundreds of Palestinians joined by foreign and Israeli activists marching through the city together on the day before the anniversary of the Ibrahimi Massacre, was confronted by Israeli forces before demonstrators could reach the mosque.

Israeli forces fired tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to disperse protesters.

Issa Amro, the founder of Youth Against Settlements, a Hebron based-initiative, was hit in the head with a tear gas canister during the demonstration and had to be carried away to safety. Dozens of others suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.

Demonstrators flee from copious amounts of tear gas being shot by Israeli forces. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

Yusuf Natasha, a reservist with the Christian Peacemakers Team, also based in Hebron, said he was at the demonstration as an observer to document human rights violations.

“Israeli forces respond harshly to peaceful demonstrations in Hebron, so documenting those violations is very important” Natasha said. “The people have the right to peacefully protest, as they are doing, but Israeli forces don’t allow any demonstrations, even peaceful ones, and they respond with violence and extreme measures against people marching for their rights in the streets.”

“We need international pressure to help stop these crimes against the Palestinian population here,” he said. “International support and pressure is so important for Hebron, because there are international laws being broken everywhere you look in Hebron.”

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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20 Responses

  1. Kay24 on February 27, 2017, 8:21 pm

    How much more can they endure? They have appealed for help for years, and it seems the world keeps ignoring them. Their Arab brothers in other nations not only ignore, but some of them work, and are in bed, with their oppressor. This is one of the world’s biggest shame.
    The US, UK, and other Western nations are meanwhile handing their killers weapons and aid, to continue the occupation, land grabs, and terrorist activities against these unarmed people.

    The Palestinians have the right to retaliate and defend themselves.

  2. Kay24 on February 27, 2017, 8:59 pm

    Sanders calls for end of Occupation. Unfortunately he is not in a stronger position to do something about it.

  3. xanadou on February 27, 2017, 10:12 pm

    Israel’s Rabbis for Human Rights are also calling on the international community to end its silence and lend its voice to bring about a just solution to the fast-deteriorating nightmare:

    • Kay24 on February 27, 2017, 11:00 pm

      They have to pressure the Israeli government to stop the endless building of illegal settlements. It is one of the detriments to achieving peace. The Israeli government keeps breaking all international laws because the US enables them and helps them get away with all crimes.

  4. Badia Dwaik on February 27, 2017, 11:55 pm

    Thanks Sheren Khalel and I hope met with you coz there are many information you and may others readers don’t know about it to share it .

    With my best


  5. Ossinev on February 28, 2017, 7:15 am

    Zioland`s worst nightmare is an “outbreak”of peaceful demonstrations against the occupation in the West Bank and in Zioland itself which is why it deliberately breaks them up and uses agent provocoteurs. However the writing is on the wall for this knee jerk strategy. Soon and hopefully very soon when Abbas and the rest of the PA Vichy Cabal depart the scene civil rights demonstrations in Zioland , in the Occupied Terriitories and in abroad in support of a single state with equal rights for all will become the norm. The Zios have missed the boat big time and they are simply too self deluded to realise and admit that the end is nigh for their nasty little cult colony.

  6. Misterioso on February 28, 2017, 11:05 am

    For the record:

    On 29 November 1947, when the recommendatory only Partition Plan (Res. 181) was adopted by the UNGA, 96% of Sub-district Hebron’s land was privately owned by Palestinian Arabs. Less than 1% was owned by Jews and 4% was state owned. (Village Statistics, Jerusalem: Palestine Government,
    subsequently published as United Nations Map no. 94b, August, 1950)

    • annie on February 28, 2017, 11:42 am

      Less than 1% was owned by Jews

      but jews have always lived there continuously!

      • Misterioso on February 28, 2017, 12:17 pm

        Those who lived in Hebron were descendants of the Sephardim who had founded the city’s Jewish Quarter near the tomb of the Patriarchs in the 1500s after Jews were expelled from Spain and then welcomed and given sanctuary in the Arab world. Their numbers increased somewhat during the early 1900’s with the arrival of Hasidim from Poland who came to study. Many Muslims who were driven out of Spain by the Christians also moved to Hebron.

        Prior to Zionism, Jews and Muslims lived together harmoniously in Hebron for 400 years with the Jews always forming a small minority. There were very few if any Christians in the city.

        The friendship that existed between Muslims and Jews in Hebron was attested to by Israeli journalist, Chaim Hanegbi, whose great grandfather was the city’s last Rabbi: “My grandfather lived very peacefully with his Arab neighbours…. His family joined the grape harvest every year, and the [Muslim] neighbours cooked kosher food so the Jews could share the feasts with them.” (Canada’s Globe and Mail, February 18, 1997)

    • talknic on February 28, 2017, 8:49 pm

      @ Misterioso

      Real Estate is owned by individuals, businesses, state institutions/bodies/companies.

      Territory belongs to all the legitimate inhabitants of the territory whether they own real estate, lease/rent real estate or are homeless living under a bridge.

      Israel paid nothing for its territory

  7. xanadou on February 28, 2017, 11:42 am

    They didn’t miss the boat, they have used it to ram everything in its path. Where they went wrong was to underestimate the obvious: rate of technological progress.

    Considering the massive progress made between 1939 and the end of the WW2, it boggles the mind how and why the zioland’s evil cabal missed that enormous, and still ongoing progress which they demand for their killing streets and sky, get and have employed against the Palestinians and beyond for 70+ years to further their genocidal goals. Thankfully that boat that they had used way back when is still in play today and loaded with recorded history that can never be denied.

  8. catalan on February 28, 2017, 2:17 pm

    “admit that the end is nigh for their nasty little cult colony. “- ossinev
    It must be nice to be able to predict the future. Annie tried that last year with Soda stream, which she said was a horrible investment, and it is now up 5 times, worth over a billion from 200M.
    Then again, if you truly could predict the future, you would be a millionaire in the Carribean rather than a sad blogger.

    • Mooser on February 28, 2017, 2:59 pm

      “catalan” can we get this straight? If I read you right, you were willing to risk illegal entry, and undocumented status (until you could find a sponsor?) in the US.
      If you had gone to Israel, you would be given automatic citizenship, no questions asked. But you risked illegal entry to the US instead.

      Why is that, “catalan”? Why not Israel? Why you feel the need to cloak your rejection of Israel in a bunch of Zionist double-talk is your own business, of course.

    • talknic on February 28, 2017, 8:41 pm

      Speaking of sad bloggers. It’s incredible how stupid supporters of the illegal colonization of non-Israeli territories can be

      @ catalan February 28, 2017, 2:17 pm

      “Annie tried that last year with Soda stream, which she said was a horrible investment”

      Indeed, Israeli companies illegally entrenched in Occupied Territories where they’re stealing non-Israeli resources are not only vile Israeli thieves, but they could easily lose everything in a just territorial settlement for Palestine where compensation is (over) due. A simple risk assessment would tell any sane person it was a horrible investment

      ” and it is now up 5 times, worth over a billion from 200M

      Well, who’d have thought. Since leaving the Occupied Territories Soda Stream’s value has risen. AMAZING!!!

      WTF do you think people here have saying in essence? Get out of all non-Israeli territories as required by law, it’ll be an all round beneficial move

  9. catalan on February 28, 2017, 4:24 pm

    “Why is that, “catalan”? Why not Israel? Why you feel the need to cloak your rejection of Israel” mooser
    I overstayed my visa because I did like America a lot and felt like home here. I depended on the kindness of strangers and still felt like I belong.
    Israel was way more nationalistic and militaristic and “manly” for my chicken nature. I saw there much of what I didn’t like in Bulgaria, only in Bulgaria I was on the receiving side of prejudice. Plus, my Israeli relatives are very different from me and with a few exceptions I am not close to them at all.
    That said, our American peace and prosperity is purchased with the largest armed forces in the world.

    • Mooser on February 28, 2017, 5:43 pm

      Well then “catalan”, if living in the Jewish homeland doesn’t mean that much to you, why should it mean all that much to any Jew?
      You easily recognized that there are better options, and Judaism had no way to coerce you into going to Israel.( And Israel hasn’t got much of a way to keep people there, either, if they want to go).

      And even the risk of illegal residence in the US is better than the automatic citizenship of Israel.

      You just keep making my point for me. Thanks

      “That said, our American peace and prosperity is purchased with the largest armed forces in the world “

      Yeah, let me know when Israel can afford it’s own military.

  10. catalan on February 28, 2017, 7:08 pm

    “You just keep making my point for me. Thanks”
    I think we agree on some things but differ on others. Living in the US is a blessing for all and especially for Jews. I am obviously grateful that for all my worries as a parent, I don’t have to add my son being drafted in Israel as one of them.
    That said, we have to compare Israel with other parts of the Middle East, Africa and Europe. I believe that in that context things don’t look as bad. Not all Jews can come to the United States for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that the US won’t allow that. You live here but you say to Jews who don’t well tough luck you didn’t make it. That’s not fair.

    • Citizen on March 1, 2017, 7:31 pm

      @ catalan
      RE: “You live here but you say to Jews who don’t well tough luck you didn’t make it. That’s not fair”
      Where does Mooser say or even imply that?

  11. xanadou on March 1, 2017, 2:33 am

    israel has definitely overstayed its unwelcome in Palestine and it looks like it’s time to go… to Birobidjan. No one else wants that scummy lot.

    (B’Tselem) “Israel demolishes infrastructure, leaving Palestinian farmers without water for domestic and agricultural needs”

    To deny anyone access to water with malice aforethought, to deliberately destroy a water supply utility, subjecting the human and animal population to unconscionable suffering so that american psycho-settlers can have cheap water in their swimming pools — is genocide. This case should IMMEDIATELY be submitted to the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

    Legal definition of genocide (per the OFFICE OF THE UN SPECIAL ADVISER ON THE

    Genocide is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part1 ; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”


    Lawrrd, if you have any sense left–get busy fer kreissake!

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