21st October 2016 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine
Late Thursday morning, as Palestinian schools in the Old City of occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) were dismissing their students early due to enhanced settler activity, Israeli forces harassed a Palestinian man and denied him his right of movement through the large parking lot near the base of al-Ibrahimi Mosque. The reason for this incident, as well as the increase in settler activity, was due to the weeklong Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles. Throughout this entire week, Israeli Forces have increased their numbers stationed around the Mosque, and it was one of these members of the occupation forces that decided to harass this Palestinian civilian.
The man, a local tour guide in the Old City of al-Khalil, entered the parking lot in order to reach a group of Turkish tourists who had just arrived. Upon setting foot in the lot, two members of the Israeli Border Police approached him, with one using his hands to physically shove him away from the cordoned off entrance. As he tried to explain that he merely wanted to pass through to reach the tourists, the border policeman raised his voice and shouted at him to get back. When the man asked why he was not allowed to pass through when so many tourists were permitted to, the answer he received was, “You are Palestinian. No Palestinians pass through here during the holiday.” The man had no choice but to turn around and walk around the parking lot.
The denial towards Palestinians of their right to movement by Israeli forces is a fundamental weapon of the occupation. By preventing Palestinians from entering historical and religious sites, and working to minimize their presence around Jewish festivities, Israel uses the excuse of the holidays to continue its process of ethnically cleaning al-Khalil of its indigenous Palestinian population. On Wednesday, Israeli Forces came out in force to block off a road in the so-called Palestinian controlled H1 area to allow settlers from the illegal Israeli settlements to have access to a supposed prayer site in the city. This is merely one of the many examples of how Jewish holidays act as a cover for forceful intimidation of Palestinians.
The harassment of this man this morning is symptomatic of the devaluation of Palestinian life under the Israeli occupation across the land of Palestine.