30th October 2016 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine
It’s like living in a prison. That’s how residents describe what Israeli forces are doing to their lives in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood and Shuhada Street in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). The area was first declared a ‘closed military zone’ on 30th October 2015 – solely and deliberately affecting the Palestinian residents. One year of collective punishment, open discrimination, racism, apartheid policies and rampant attempts at ethnic cleansing in this area, commonplace tactics of an illegal occupying force in an obvious attempt to rid the area of any Palestinian presence and instead, create a continous ‘sterile’ strip of illegal settlements.
The ‘closed military zone’ has several times been extended within this year of collective punishment of the Palestinian population, adding even more areas and ‘re-inforcing’ and creating more checkpoints, exclusively for the Palestinian civilian population. Only the Palestinian civilian residents, who must register to pass through a checkpoint to gain access to their family home, have been degraded to a mere number on a list by the Israeli forces. Only ‘registered’ residents are allowed to reach their homes. The lists of Palestinian residents have been changed repeatedly lately, arbitrarily dropping various names from the list. Apparently registering with the occupying force as a resident in one’s own home just once often isn’t sufficient. This dehumanization of the Palestinian civilians who at the checkpoint are reduced to a number, is a deliberate tactic to create a forcible environment directly furthering ethnic cleansing. For some time Palestinian residents were assigned numbers that were marked on their IDs, completely ridding these civilians of their human aspect, instead making them a mere number on a list. Now, with those numbers temporarily not in use, Palestinians are reffered to by their ID-number. The Palestinian civilian trying to live in their own home is just that for the Israeli forces, a number, void of any humanity.
During the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Israeli forces basically declared a curfew on the whole area, closing Shuhada checkpoint, denying Palestinians passage while allowing exclusive access tor settlers at the same time. The prison this area is becoming for the Palestinian civilian population is further exacerbated by the fact that, if there’s a large number of Israeli forces or settlers from the nearby illegal settlements on the street, leaving the house is not an option. One year of collective punishment – a sad anniversary that proves that the Israeli state does not need to fear an outcry by the international community when implementing their racist, apartheid measures, ethnically cleansing an entire neighborhood. During a year in which the residents have not been allowed to receive visitors like family or friends, workers of any sort have been denied entry and even medical personnel will be turned away at the checkpoint.