FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Fears that settler violence against Palestinian residents will increase over the Jewish holidays came to a head as Israeli settlers took over a Palestinian house on Thursday. The army has refused to remove them until the squatting has been challenged in the High Court and IDF soldiers have been stationed near the house to protect the settlers.
Palestinians in Hebron are anxious that settler violence may increase over Passover as settler youths are off school and many people will be visiting the Hebron settlements. There is a trend of increasing attacks on Palestinians over holiday periods.
The house is close to the Avraham Avinu settlement near the Hebron wholesale market. In January 2006 the IDF issued eviction notices to settlers who had been squatting there since 2001. The eviction prompted rioting (see http://www.telrumeidaproject.org/riots.html) by settlers throughout Tel Rumeida and Hebron’s old city where masked settlers stoned Palestinians, threw paint bombs and looted Palestinian homes in full view of the IDF. Eventually a deal was reached that the shops would be evacuated but that settlers could return after the Hebron municipality’s lease ran out. However, on April 4th the Israeli attorney general ruled that the IDF deal was illegal and the settlers would not be able to reoccupy the market. Local Palestinians fear that this move, combined with Passover, will lead to further violence by settlers.
Today in Tel Rumeida, on the first Shabbat of the Passover school holidays, two Palestinian were assaulted by settlers on Schohada Street. One man was punched by a group of settlers and a man had stones thrown at him while returning to his house.
International volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement and the Tel Rumeida Project plan to maintain a presence in the area over Passover.
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