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Continuing ethnic cleansing in closed military zone in Hebron

5th October 2016 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine

Israeli forces in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) are continuously increasing their efforts of ethnic cleansing in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood. In the area, declared a ‘closed military zone’ for almost a year, Israeli forces do everything imaginable to force the Palestinian population to move away in order to create an ethnically cleansed zone free of any Palestinian presence, geographically linking the illegal settlements.

The area of the ‘closed military zone’ (CMZ) that is solely and deliberately only enforced on Palestinians, while at the same time facilitating settler movement, has recently been extended to encompass the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in it’s entirety. On the tiny strip of Shuhada Street – that in the aftermath of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre hasn’t yet been fully ethnically cleansed of Palestinian presence – illegal annexation attempts are progressing continuously. For the few hundred meters of the street where some Palestinians are still allowed to walk and the whole Tel Rumeida neighborhood, Palestinian vehicular traffic, including ambulances, is forbidden and has effectively been made into a dead-end for Palestinians. The stairs leading to the Qurtuba school-area have been closed, again only for Palestinians, and the rest of the street continuing from there has already been ethnically cleansed and is now completely off-limits to Palestinians.

One of the main checkpoints needed to reach the area of the CMZ is the highly-militarized and fenced-in Shuhada checkpoint, where Israeli forces in the last few days have replaced their old list of ‘registered Palestinian residents’ with a brand-new copy. For the new list though, Israeli forces arbitrarily dropped many names of Palestinians previously registered, thus leaving them stranded at the checkpoint and denied passage to reach their own homes. How the ‘new list’ was created baffles the Palestinian residents, as there has not been any new ‘registration’ of residents in which Israeli forces would suddenly, usually at night time, show up in family homes in order to register names and ID-numbers of the present family members.

Whereas the Israeli forces are trying to enforce the ‘normality’ of family or friends, workers or medical personell – if Palestinian – as not being permitted in the so called ‘closed military zone’, Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements are free to go and come as they please. With hightened restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement, Israeli forces at Shuhada checkpoint have additionally started forcing men to lift up their shirts and trouser-legs after having already passed the metal detector installed inside the checkpoint box, which ensures that no outside observer will see what’s happening inside. The sole reason for this, as for the whole existence of the checkpoint itself, is humiliation; humiliation to a degree where Palestinians decide to leave as there is no option to live a life with at least a shroud of dignity, where you’re treated like a human being – despite being born, and identified, as Palestinian.