by ISM Hebron, 7th February
During the afternoon a demonstration took place in the market area of Bab-al-Zawiya in central Hebron to protest against the excavations at the al-Aqsa mosque taking place in Jerusalem. The market, which is in the PA controlled H1 zone of Hebron, was partly closed down as a result of this.
At around 4pm human rights workers (HRWs) heard gunshots and screams coming from this area, which is beside the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood. The HRWs heard some sound bombs exploding and decided to investigate. The Tel Rumeida checkpoint had been closed so the HRWs had to take a longer route to reach the market.
Seven IOF jeeps, both army and Border Police had invaded the market. There were about 30 soldiers in the immediate area. One building had been occupied by the military. Four soldiers had occupied a roof overlooking Bab-al-Zawiya. Two Palestinian youth had been arrested by the IOF and were standing blindfolded and handcuffed in front of the checkpoint into Tel Rumeida.
Suddenly about six soldiers ran forward and entered a block of houses. The HRWs observed them throwing sound grenades at a crowd of Palestinian youth. Teargas was also used to disperse the crowd. Stones were thrown at the soldiers by groups of youth, and a small barricade was set on fire.
Meanwhile in Tel Rumeida, four soldiers occupied the roof of the international house where HRWs were observing the situation. One soldier asked them what they were doing, whilst another grabbed a video camera to look at what had been taped. It was then returned.
Back in Bab-al-Zawiya Palestinian youth started throwing stones again at the soldiers.
Again the soldiers advanced, this time in the direction of King Faisal Street. The soldiers stopped and randomly arrested two other Palestinian youth standing on the pavement. The soldiers had no answer when questioned about these arrests. They were also blindfolded and taken back to the jeeps in front of the checkpoint. During this last operation, live ammunition in the soldiers’ guns was replaced by rubber bullets, which were shot at the resisting youth.
The four boys who were arrested were taken through the checkpoint and handed to the police, around 6 pm. One of the boys was taken away by the police before the others. The names of the men who were arrested were not disclosed.
The HRWs maintained a visible presence in the market area and the Tel Rumeida district. Apart from tear gas inhalation and concussion from sound bombs no injuries were reported.