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Settler Attacks and House Occupations in Hebron

by Tom

Settlers attacked Palestinian houses and targeted the Palestinian residents of Tel Rumeida today, the first Shabbat of the Passover period.

A Palestinian boy was attacked at 4.30pm by five settlers on Shuhada Street. The settlers knocked him off his bicycle and attacked him in full view of the IDF.

Later in the afternoon fifteen settlers were seen by Human Rights Workers attempting to break into a Palestinian home near Beit Hadassa settlement, the settlers became aware of the internationals and moved on, crossing into H1. H1 is the Palestinian controlled area of Hebron and settlers are restricted from being there.

Human Rights Workers monitored the settlers as they walked through the Palestinian neighbourhood targeting Palestinian homes. When the settlers became aware that they were being observed they left H1. However, they then attacked the Human Rights Workers, and tried to steal their camera. The internationals were kicked, punched and subjected to threats. Israeli police were nearby but did not pursue the settlers.

At around 8pm the IDF occupied the community centre in Tel Rumeida. The troops unloaded a large truck of equipment and sleeping bags, signifying that they were to stay for a long period of time. They draped an Israeli flag over the roof of the building. Three ISM activists approached the door of the community centre with rackets and ping pong balls, requesting that the army let them in to play ping pong. After the troops refused their request, the activists asked them if it would be possible to enter only the first floor while the troops occupied the roof and until when the troops would be occupying the building. After several minutes of persistent request a local resident approached the commander of the unit and explained to him that the first floor of the building should be made available to people in the community, while the army continued to occupy the other floors. The commander agreed to allow us to enter the first floor and told us that the floor would be kept open to the public for the immediate future.

ISM activists were called to another house in the Abu Sneineh neighbourhood which was being occupied by a unit of soldiers. The flat was home to five people including three children. ISM activists and local residents attempted to negotiate for the soldiers to take the roof of the apartment and leave the flat free for the family. This was refused but the soldiers promised to be sensitive around the children. One Human Rights Worker is staying in the Abu Sneineh neighbourhood tonight in case there are more problems. Two more houses have been occupied by the IDF in Hebron.

The Palestinian residents of Hebron are afraid that further tensions may arise over the Passover period.