6th August 2017 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine
On Tuesday 25th of July some 50 Israeli settlers illegally occupied a Palestinian house in illegal occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron) in H2 in an attempt to take control of the house. The settlers have stayed in the Palestinian building for six days, protected by the Israeli police, who should have instead evicted the settlers due to the unclear legal status of the building. Due to the settler presence, the Palestinian families living in the building complex are limited in their movement both by the settlers and Israeli forces and are disturbed by the settlers chanting and dancing on the courtyard.
The settlers and their children raided the house around 4:30 pm on Tuesday afternoon and opened the door by force. The Israeli army claims that they arrived at the scene after the settlers raided the house, but one Palestinian family living in the building confirmed that the Israeli army was already present when the settlers raided the house. The family opened the door in the hope that the Israeli forces would protect them, but instead they allowed the settlers passage. After breaking in the settlers were celebrating loudly in front of the building until midnight.
The following morning the situation was still going on and there were more Israeli police and army present. Also different media came to the site, but were not allowed to enter the house. A journalist tried to enter the house after getting invited by the family of Abu Rajab, to document the situation and interview the family but the police prohibited him violently from entering, intimidating the host and his family. On the same Wednesday morning, a Palestinian man living in the house was assaulted by the settlers as he was trying to enter his house. In the evening the scene was dominated by a huge group of young settlers chanting, dancing and shouting at passers-by guarded by heavily armed border police. Also a settler, known for his violence, was seen talking familiarly to the army forces and harassing Palestinian media representatives.
This was not the first time that something like this has happened in the same building. In 2012 the settlers tried to take over the same house, but the civil administration decided that the settlers did not have enough evidence for their claim of ownership over the property. The families were removed from the house then and have been trying to dispute the case in court ever since. The Palestinian owners deny ever selling the property and accuse the settlers of forging documents to steal the house from them.
It may be no coincidence that the illegal occupation of the house comes during the tensions surrounding the restrictive Israeli measures at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. It seems the settlers are using the momentum now to disregard the law and take the house when everyone is looking at Jerusalem. It has already been 12 days that the Israeli police has allowed the continuation of the illegal occupation.