Dozens of Israeli settlers launched an attack on Palestinians in the Old City of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank on Tuesday night, yelling “death to Arabs!” in the street and hurling rocks at Palestinian homes.
According to locals, more than 100 settlers accompanied by over 70 armed Israeli forces began marching down Shuhada street at 9pm in the Old City, heading towards the Palestinian neighborhood of Tel Rumeida.
“They were chanting anti-Arab slogans, calling for the expulsion of all Palestinians from the area, saying this is the land of Israel, and saying we should all die,” Badee Dweik, 46, Co-Founder of the Human Rights Defenders group in Hebron told Mondoweiss.
According to Dweik, who witnessed the events, settlers began harassing and throwing stones at any Palestinians who were walking outside. Shortly after, the settlers began hurling rocks at the windows of Palestinian homes.
“Here in the Old City we are used to such attacks, so the Palestinians all have bars on their windows so that the settlers can’t break through,” Dweik said.
He added that no one was badly injured, but several people sustained bruises on their faces and bodies from being physically assaulted by the settlers.
The attack lasted until just after midnight, Dweik said. “When the soldiers saw lots of Palestinians beginning to congregate in the area, they started to push the settlers back and control them.”
“They only interfered, not to protect the Palestinians, but to protect the settlers.”
Dweik said he believes that the attack was a direct result of the lack of presence of international volunteers and observers in the area.
“The settlers, who are already extremely violent, are becoming more and more aggressive since the Israeli government decided to expel the TIPH mission in Hebron,” he said.
“Getting rid of TIPH was a greenlight for settlers to be more violent, not just against Palestinians,but also against any internationals that they see here.”
According to Dweik, two volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) were detained by Israeli forces for 10 hours after the notoriously violent settler Anat Cohen claimed the ISM volunteers tried to slap her.
“The soldiers only released them after forcing them to sign a paper that they’re not allowed to be in the H2 area for 15 days,” Dweik said, adding that the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) pulled their observers out of Hebron’s Old City after their staff were targeted by settlers.
“There are only two Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) staff left in the Old City now after Israel deported them,” Dweik said. “All the internationals are a target more than before.”