FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron, the Israeli army went from house to house and forcibly entered every Palestinian home in the neighbourhood. It is likely that this was in response to settler pressure as they were organising a “tour of Hebron” for today, according to the website of the Hebron settlers. All checkpoints in the area remain closed.
At 2.45 today two Human Rights Workers (HRWs) were sitting in Shuhada street when they heard gunfire coming from the direction of the Old City. Right away there was a big increase in Israeli army activity in the area. Israeli Jeeps rushed back and forth in the street, as well as ambulances (Palestinians are not allowed to drive vehicles in the Israeli controlled part of the city in which Tel Rumeida lies – known as “H2″). The Israeli checkpoints that surround H2 were closed almost immediately. It is likely that that they were planning to do this anyway, due to the “tour” of Hebron organised by settlers today, followed by a Jewish holy day tomorrow.
The HRWs walked up the Tel Rumeida street hill to their apartment. When they got there they saw at least 20 soldiers guarding the Tel Rumeida settlement. Ten of the soldiers ran down the hill to the Palestinian apartment building opposite the HRW’s apartment, banged on the door and entered the house to search it. This was the beginning of two hours during which Israeli soldiers went from house to house in the neighbourhood, subjecting the Palestinian families to forced searches of their property. From what the HRWs could see, and from what other eyewitnesses told them, the soldiers entered every Palestinian house in the neighbourhood. In a least one house they stayed for 30 minutes.
During all this time Israeli settlers were still freely roaming around the streets of the Palestinian neighbourhood. As is common, some were armed openly with full-automatic assault rifles. Any Palestinian ever seen carrying a gun in the same manner would be instantly shot by the army.
The Hebron settler’s website is in English and the tours appear to be aimed at American Jews (there is an office in New York for dealing with tour enquiries).
The army also came to the door of the HRW’s apartment and demanded to be allowed entry. They left the HRWs alone after they demanded a warrant before they would let them in.
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