3rd October 2016 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine
Israeli forces put up a CCTV observation tower in the Ibrahimi mosque area, further increasing not only their all-encompassing surveillance of Palestinians, but also their slow but steady illegal annexation of more and more Palestinian land in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron).
At the end of last week, Israeli forces in a ‘secret’ over-night action put up the observation tower, surrounded by dozens of cement blocks and barbed-wire. Located in a corner between Palestinian houses, the observation post with a container and all the surrounding paraphernalia is just another step in the illegal annexation of yet more land. In recent weeks, Israeli forces have increased their illegal annexations of the tiny strip of Shuhada Street still accessible to Palestinian pedestrians and stepped up the game of creating a coercive environment directly leading to forced displacement of Palestinians in the Tel Rumeida area.
This observation tower is fitted with a camera that reaches high above the houses in the neighborhood, thus watching Palestinians constantly. This feeling of permanently being watched for Palestinians is combined with the ever present controls and humiliations at the more-and-more militarized checkpoints. Palestinians are watched, humiliated, numbered, deprived of their most basic human rights – occupied not only physically by the Israeli occupation forces, but also mentally. They can never tell whether they’ll be allowed through a checkpoint (something that solely depends on the respective soldiers whim), whether their children will be tear-gassed on their way to school or arrested, or even whether they’ll be gunned down by Israeli forces at a checkpoint and left to bleed to death. Any and all of these forms of collective punishment are enforced by the Israeli occupying forces on the entire population of civilians in complete disregard of any care for international law or humane treatment of the occupied indigenous Palestinian population.
The Tel Rumeida neighborhood, Shuhada Street, and the area around the Ibrahimi Mosque are already linked by a settler-only street that has been ethnically cleansed of Palestinians in the aftermath of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. Restrictions in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood (declared a ‘closed military zone’ solely enforced on Palestinian residents for almost a year now) and around the Ibrahimi Mosque (where Palestinians are often prevented from passing checkpoints on a age-limit between 15-30) have escalated in a very short amount of time, making life for the Palstinians as hard – or rather impossible – as possible, leaving them with no choice than to leave. The only and clear aim is the forcible transfer of all Palestinians in this area, thus geographically linking the illegal settlements in an area ethnically cleansed of any Palestinian presence.