02/04/2018, International Solidarity Movement, Al Khalil/Hebron
Today Israeli forces sealed off parts of three streets in Palestinian controlled H1 near Bab Azawiyeh ordering more than fifty Palestinian shops to close for ‘security reasons’. Israeli forces also closed the Al Ibrahimi Mosque and the checkpoint adjacent to it for two whole days.
Pictured: Israeli forces seal off road with spike strips and armed presence.
The incursion into Palestinian controlled H1 started at around 11am with Israeli soldiers entering the area, ordering shops to close and preventing vehicle access to the marketplace. Around 30 minutes later Israeli Border Police in armored vehicles with teargas canons on top blocked the three main streets leading to the market. In front of the vehicles, the Israeli soldiers laid spike strips to further restrict vehicle access, and they took up positions in front. Only residents of Tel Rumeida were allowed to pass. In past years, Israeli forces blocked access to less of this commercial zone, but this year they encroached further into the Palestinian city. Snipers were positioned on the surrounding roof tops.
Pictured: Israeli forces order over 50 Palestinian stores and market holders to close.
The Israeli military blocked off this H1 area under Palestinian control so Jewish settlers could visit a tomb shrine during the holiday of Passover.
During the afternoon, the Israeli soldiers took several Palestinian adults and minors from the street for not having their ID’s with them or simply for watching and daring to get too close to the Israeli forces. Some were taken through Checkpoint 56 presumably under arrest.
Pictured: Israeli border police detain Palestinian youth.
Early evening around five thirty PM, Israeli forces began to withdraw from H1 area back into H2 area under ‘Israeli control’ through checkpoint 56. Small scale clashes between armed Israeli forces and unarmed Palestinian youth. The clashes began as Israeli forces were still present on roof tops. Palestinian youth began throwing stones and Israeli forces threw stun grenades and fired rubber coated steel bullets at the youth, this went on until six thirty PM. Two Palestinian youth were shot with rubber coated steel bullets one in the left leg and another in the lower spine but they did not require immediate medical treatment on the scene.
The day was a complete disruption of Palestinian businesses and freedom of movement. “Normal” life is extremely difficult for Palestinians without additional disruptions. More than twenty permanent checkpoints block movement in the city along with the countless other restrictions that Palestinians face.
Pictured: A map from OCHA showing Al Khalil, Hebron restricted access and closures to Palestinians only.
Illegal Israeli settlers flood the Palestinian souq (Market)
The Israeli military occupation forces started their heightened ‘security’ measures in the Old City souq at around 9am as Palestinian shopkeepers were opening their stores. Armed Israeli Border Police and soldiers in full battle dress patrolled through the souq.
Internationals heard that the illegal Israeli settlers will enter the souq at around 1pm and the day wouldn’t finish until 5pm for a pro-longed settler tour for the Jewish holiday of Passover. At noon, with a drone circling overhead, Israeli forces massed at Bab Al Baladia, a gate in the courtyard that the illegal settlers and Israeli soldiers use to enter the Old City.
Pictured: Bab Albaladia gate where settlers, Israeli forces enter from illegal settlement into Souq.
Israeli forces lined the rooftops and all the way down the souq. Israeli military vehicles blocked off the entrance from Bab Al Baladia to prevent access to Palestinian vehicles. The sheer amount of armed forces was frightening, especially for Palestinian children who live and play in the souq streets.
Pictured: Palestinian children trying to play in the Souq with armed Israeli soldiers present everywhere.
An Israeli news channel was present interviewing the Israeli commander as the prolonged settler tour commenced. Every twenty minutes large groups of illegal Israeli settlers came out of the gates of Bab Al Baladia and walked through the souq with tour guides and surrounded by Israeli soldiers. They exited at the Mosque checkpoint that was closed to Palestinians and tourists. Some Palestinians closed their shops due to fear of attacks by settlers whilst others were ordered to close.
Pictured: Israeli forces line Palestinian Souq for pro-longed settler tour – some Palestinian shops closed.
Loud music was heard being played in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi mosque that was closed for Palestinian Muslims for two whole days. Internationals spoke with a Palestinian who works at the Mosque, and he told us that when Palestinians are allowed back in to clean up the settlers always leave it in a mess as they leave rubbish everywhere and don’t take their shoes off.
Another day of disruption for Palestinians during the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Pictured: Israeli checkpoint closed – Ibrahimi mosque closed