The secretary-general of Amnesty International is currently in the occupied Palestinian territories on a special tour to assess the human rights situation in light of the current situation. On Wednesday, the secretary-general, Irene Khan, visited the ancient holy city of Hebron, situated in the south of the occupied West Bank, and the site of much friction between the native Palestinian population and the Israeli Jewish settler population, who are doing everything in their power to push the Palestinians out.
Mrs Khan toured the old city of Hebron, where much of the friction occurs, and the Ibrahimi Mosque where she prayed. The Ibrahimi mosque, or the Cave of the Patriarchs, is the burial spot of Abraham and many other early prophets and is therefore considered holy by all three monotheistic faiths. As a result, the building is split in two: one side is a mosque and one side is a synagogue. The whole complex is controlled by the Israeli military and the soldiers decide who may enter through a series of checkpoints.
The Israeli forces prevented Khan’s companions and media people from entering the mosque with her. They also forbade any photographic shots to be taken during her visit, claiming that the area was a closed military zone.
Khan then toured the streets of the old city where she faced harassment from the Jewish settlers. She then visited the family of Hanna Abu Haikal in their home where she was briefed by the family members about the harassments, bribes and threats that they face from the settlers. They told her that the Israelis paid them $20 million to leave the house, but they refuse to sell the house.
The Abu Haikal family home is located in the middle of many Israeli settlers’ houses. As a consequence, the family suffers harshly. The family told Khan that often during the night, the Israeli settlers break into the house.
When Khan was asked by Ma’an about what her organization can do to help this family, she replied that Amnesty International continues to help by reporting such incidents and revealing such Israeli violations, which she affirmed occur not only against this family but against dozens of Palestinian families. She said that Amnesty International aims to help Palestinians who live adjacent to the Israeli settlements and to present their case to the international community.
Earlier on Wednesday, Khan had visited the southern Israeli town of Sderot that has been hit by numerous crudely-made Palestinian projectiles emanating from the northern Gaza Strip. Khan will also spend a day in the Gaza Strip, visiting Beit Hanoun and other localities badly hit by Israel’s military machinery. She will also meet with various Israeli and Palestinian civil society representatives and members of the respective leaderships during her six-day tour.