woensdag 18 november 2015

Update status Palestina/Gaza

Sweden’s Foreign Minister slams Israel’s ‘extrajudicial executions’ of Palestinian civilians

Source: PNN/Bethlehem

Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallastrom, once again didn’t measure words regarding the reality of Israel’s acts over Palestinian civilians: she accused the Israeli government of executing Palestinian assailants without trial.

On Friday, when asked by a Swedish parliamentarian why she refused to condemn Palestinian acts of violence against Israelis, Margot replied that while she did not condone terrorism and that Israel did have a right to self-defense, “at the same time the [Israeli] response doesn’t need to be extrajudicial executions or disproportionate force”, causing [another] diplomatic crisis between the two governments.

Wallström’s comments were made during a discussion at the Swedish parliament about the ongoing wave of violence and terror attacks raging in Palestine.

A fast response from the Israeli Ambassador to Stockholm, Isaac Bachman, followed her statement:
“Israel’s moral standards when it comes to fighting terrorism are at least at par with other Western nations coping with the same threat,” Bachman said. “Israeli practices are even more successful in avoiding civilian casualties than in other Western nations’ cases, according to verified military statistics”.

Last month after the Paris attacks, Wallstrom was asked the following question on Swedish television:

“How worried are you about the radicalization of young people in Sweden who are fighting for ISIS?”

According to the translation, Wallstrom answered:

“Obviously, we have reason to be worried, not just in Sweden but across the world, because there are so many that are being radicalized. Here, once again, we are brought back to situations like the one in the Middle East, where not least, the Palestinians see that there isn’t a future. We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”

In October, Wallstrom displeased the Israeli government with a tweet about the wave of violence in Palestine:

“Escalating violence in Jerusalem. Attacks against civilians unacceptable. Bring perpetrators to justice. Leaders must act responsibly,” she wrote.

Aldo, adding to Margot’s comment, Sweden is one of the countries that is leading the call to place consumer labels on settlement products, exacerbating the tensions between Stockholm and Tel Aviv, prompting a scathing response from the Israeli ambassador to Sweden.

Israeli ban on Islamic party marks a ‘dangerous turning point’ - door Jonathan Cook

Netanyahu grijpt de aanslagen in Parijs aan om meer vijandbeelden te scheppen en aan te sluiten bij zijn Westerse 'war-on-terror'-bondgenoten.

Leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, gestures outside a Jerusalem court (AFP)

Nazareth, Israel - The decision by the Israeli government on Tuesday to outlaw the country’s main Islamic Movement marks a dangerous turning point in Israel’s relations with its large Palestinian minority, Palestinian leaders in Israel have warned.
The decision effectively drives underground a religious, political and social movement representing the views of a sizeable portion of Israel’s 1.6 million Palestinian citizens, comprising a fifth of the population.
Jamal Zahalka was among the Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament who called the move a “declaration of war” against the country’s Palestinian minority.
“It is an attack not just on the northern Islamic Movement but on our entire community,” he told Middle East Eye.
He and other community leaders noted that the Islamic Movement has not used or called for violence. He said the ban was driven solely by the agenda of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli right.
“Netanyahu is a leader who needs to create enemies,” Zahalka said. “The recent US deal with Iran deprived him of his main bogeyman. The PA is helping him with security in the West Bank. Gaza is quiet. So he makes an enemy of the country’s Palestinian citizens.
“In the elections [in March] he began his ugly incitement by saying we were coming out to vote ‘in droves’. Now he has the Islamic Movement in his sights. But he won’t stop with this.”
Netanyahu first mooted plans two years ago to shut down the northern wing of the Islamic Movement, led by Sheikh Raed Salah.
However, fear of international condemnation, as well as advice from his intelligence services that such a step could not be justified on security grounds, appeared to stay his hand.
Declared ‘illegal organisation’
Asad Ghanem, a politics professor at Haifa University, said Netanyahu had moved now to exploit the attacks in Paris last Friday, which were claimed by Islamic State (IS) and left 129 dead.
“He is making an entirely false comparison between the Islamic Movement and the most violent armed Islamic groups so that he can persuade the Europeans that this is connected to their fight against terror,” he told MEE.
Declaring the northern Islamic Movement an “illegal organisation”, Netanyahu said it “denies [Israel’s] right to exist and calls for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in its place.”
Early on Tuesday morning, police raided the movement’s head offices in Umm al-Fahm, as well as dozens of Islamic charities and welfare associations in communities such as Nazareth, Jaffa, Kfar Kana, Turan, Beersheva and Rahat.
Some 17 related organisations were also served with orders shutting them down. The group’s leaders were called in for questioning. Computers and documents were seized and the organisations’ bank accounts frozen.
Ghanem said the move would signal to Palestinian citizens that the “door is closed to them when it comes to participating in the democratic process”.
He added: “As well as being politically dangerous, this will also be seen as an assault on Islamic belief. The movement funds and organises student associations that teach the Koran. They will now be treated as illegal.”
Ghanem said nothing about the Islamic Movement had changed in the past decade. “The only thing that changed is the political extremism of Netanyahu and his government.”
Draconian measure
Adalah, a legal group for Palestinians in Israel, said the order from the defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, was based on emergency regulations from the British Mandate period.
The decision threatens with arrest and imprisonment anyone who continues to be involved with the organisation or offers it services.
Adalah called it “an aggressive, draconian measure” that would “suppress a political movement that represents a large part of the Palestinian public in Israel”.
Salah denounced the ban, saying his movement would continue to defend Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City from what he termed Israeli threats.
For more than a decade Salah has clashed with Israeli officials by leading a campaign under the slogan “Al-Aqsa is in danger”, warning that Israel is seeking to erode Islamic sovereignty over the mosque area.
In September the government banned the Murabitoun, Muslim students organised by the Islamic Movement in the al-Aqsa compound. They had regularly clashed with Jewish extremists allowed into the area in ever-increasing numbers by the Israeli authorities.
Netanyahu and other ministers have accused Salah of incitement and blamed him for the wave of Palestinian protests and so-called “lone-wolf” attacks, many of them stabbings, of the past few weeks.
Salah said: “I will take every possible legitimate step, in Israel and internationally, to remove the measures taken against the movement.”
Welfare services threatened
The Islamic Movement was founded in the 1970s as both a political party and a provider of religious and welfare services. It split into two factions in the mid-1990s, with Salah’s so-called northern group refusing to participate in parliamentary elections.
The organisation runs kindergartens, health clinics, mosques, a newspaper and a sports league.
It is also a key member of the Follow-Up Committee, the Palestinian minority’s only representative national body. Mohammed Barakeh, the committee’s head, said the Islamic Movement would continue to participate in defiance of the ban.
Only a fortnight ago, the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported that a year-long investigation by Israel’s domestic intelligence service, the Shin Bet, had been unable to find security grounds for closing the organisation.
Two unnamed government ministers told the paper that Yoram Cohen, head of the Shin Bet, had told the security cabinet he objected to any move to criminalise the movement’s more than 10,000 members. It would do “more harm than good”, he reportedly told them.
Ghanem said the Shin Bet’s view was based on an assessment that allowing the Islamic Movement to operate “ensured its political activities were more open and more mainstream, and would avoid it being forced underground.
“The fact that Netanyahu has taken the opposite view tells us this is a political decision, not a security one.”
Both Zahalka and Ghanem said they feared that Netanyahu would next target Zahalka’s democratic nationalist party, Balad. Last month the Israeli prime minister accused the Balad party of conspiring with Hamas and Islamic State.
Terror link claims
The government immediately launched a media campaign implying that Salah’s movement had colluded with “terrorism” against Israel.
A document issued by Netanyahu’s office stated that the group was “a sister-movement of the Hamas terrorist organization. These organizations are secretly and actively cooperating with one another.”
The public security minister, Gilad Erdan, went further, saying: “The Islamic Movement, Hamas, ISIS [Islamic State], and the other terror organizations have a common ideological platform that leads to terror attacks in the world and the wave of terror attacks in Israel.”
Ghanem said it was preposterous to claim that the Islamic Movement shared common ground with Islamic State.
He also observed that, while the Islamic Movement and Hamas shared a political and religious ideology, Salah’s group forswore violence and militant activity in pursuit of its aims.
Zeki Aghbaria, a spokesman for the northern Islamic Movement, called the government’s characterisation of the organisation, as “political incitement”.
“Today I suddenly found I had become a criminal,” he told MEE. “That means they just criminalised any support for the defence of al-Aqsa, or for the Palestinian people under occupation, or for equal rights for Palestinian citizens in Israel, or for welfare provision for students and the handicapped.”
The decision effectively puts the Islamic Movement on an equal footing with the Kach movement, a Jewish extremist group banned in the 1990s after one of its members, Baruch Goldstein, gunned down 29 worshippers at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron.
Kach members, who still have strong representation in some West Bank settlements, call for violence against Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories and demand their expulsion.
‘Anti-democratic persecution’
Ayman Odeh, leader of Joint List faction of all the Palestinian parties in the parliament, said of the move against the Islamic Movement: “This is indisputably a case of political, anti-democratic persecution that is part of the de-legitimization campaign waged by Netanyahu’s government against the country’s Arab citizens.”
However, the decision won overwhelming support from Israeli Jewish parties, including the main centre-left opposition party, Zionist Union.
The timing of Netanyahu’s announcement takes advantage of the growing climate against Islamic political activism at the local, regional and international levels.
Given the mood in Europe and the United States after the Paris attacks, Netanyahu can probably count on the international community not studying too closely the comparisons between the Islamic Movement, Hamas and Islamic State.
Regionally, meanwhile, the Islamic Movement is at its weakest. Its sister organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, has been outlawed in neighbouring Egypt, while Cairo has joined Israel in isolating Hamas in Gaza.
And locally, the Israeli Jewish public wants someone to blame after weeks of Palestinian attacks, including stabbings, in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israel.
Intelligence services have admitted they have little idea how to deal with the so-called “lone wolves”, individual Palestinians not affiliated with any political faction, behind most of the attacks.
Zahalka said Netanyahu wanted a scapegoat and had found a convenient one in Salah. In statements on Tuesday, Netanyahu blamed the weeks of unrest on what he called “incitement” by the Islamic Movement about the status quo at al-Aqsa.
Haifa University sociologist Sammy Smooha told reporters his polls suggested that 42 per cent of Palestinian citizens identified with the Islamic Movement.
Salah is due to start an 11-month prison term next week after an Israeli court found him guilty of incitement over a sermon he delivered in Jerusalem in 2007. It is the latest of several jail terms he has served.


Kinderen in Israel gevangen in mensonwaardige omstandigheden door Charlotte Silver



Een wrede, eenzame gevangenis wacht de soms heel jonge kinderen, die tegen de Vierde Conventie van Geneve in afgevoerd worden buiten Bezet Palestina. 19 november schenkt Leiden stadhuis Atrium 13 uur hier aandacht aan bij de opening tentoonstelling 'Dit was mijn slaapkamer

Palestinian schoolchildren walk past Israeli forces in occupied East-

Jerusalem in late October; Mahfouz Abu TurkAPA images

Israel has arrested so many Palestinian children since the start of October that is has opened a new detention center specifically for them. The center is part of Givon Prison in Ramle, a city in present-day Israel.

Children from the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are being held there in conditions that violate their human rights.
A spokesperson for the Israel Prison Service told The Electronic Intifada that the newly opened facility at Givon prison is temporary and fulfills standards for detaining children.

But lawyers who have visited the imprisoned children there warn of overcrowding, poor hygiene and mistreatment.

A total of 56 Palestinian children are being held in Givon, 20 of whom are from the West Bank, according to the Palestinian prisoner advocacy gruop Addameer.

It is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention to transfer prisoners out of the occupied West Bank or Gaza into present-day Israel.

Lawyers with the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Defense for Children International-Palestineare also investigating the prison’s conditions.

Israel arrested 177 Palestinian children in October, more than doubling the number of child prisoners already held, according to human rights groups.

However, many more children from East Jerusalem have been briefly detained and released on house arrest and other conditions since last month.


According to lawyers, the cells in Givon are moldy and very little food is provided to the inmates. In at least one instance, the guards cut the electricity for several hours and confiscated food the children had bought from the canteen.

On 1 November, the cells were raided and every child was shackled, stripped and searched inside the prison bathroom. During the raid, the guards physically and verbally abused the children while ransacking their cells.

Addameer is concerned that the children detained at Givon are supervised directly by the prison guards and are therefore vulnerable to abuse.

The group has received reports of physical violence against the children which may constitute torture under international law.
One Palestinian minor from East Jerusalem who was arrested in July was transferred to Givon in the middle of October.

His mother told The Electronic Intifada she only discovered he had been transferred when she tried to visit him at Hasharon, another prison inside Israel where Palestinian minors and women are usually jailed. The mother contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross to find out where her son was being held.

Lawyers representing the family have requested their identity be kept anonymous due to fears of retaliation from the Israeli authorities.
On 20 October, the mother traveled to Givon, where dozens of families waited in the rain to see their children. She said they arrived in the late morning and waited until after dark to be allowed in.

“It was terrible how they treated us,” she said, noting that they watched more buses of children being brought in as they waited.
Once they were allowed to enter the facility, the families had to divide among themselves the 30 minutes they were allotted to speak to their children on a phone through a plexiglass screen.

Her son, who has yet to be sentenced, told her that the conditions were significantly worse in Givon than in Hasharon. Children in Givon are receiving inadequate food and are not allowed to go outside for breaks.

“We are suffocating,” he told her.

“We don’t know how to feel and what to think,” she said. “The people who are making the laws are killing people these days.”

The boy’s father tried to visit less than two weeks later. He was told that his son and seven other boys had their visiting privileges revoked. He was not told why they were being punished.

“What will Israel gain after imprisoning my son other than more hatred and anger?” he asked.

Givon mainly houses people awaiting deportation and low-level criminals.

In 2012, Israel began imprisoning unaccompanied minors from Africa in Givon. The children had been seeking asylum in Israel.

Refugee rights groups protested the move at the time, citing a 2011 Israeli high court ruling against minors being held in prison.
In August that year, Israel’s public defenders reported abysmal conditions at Givon. The cells, beds and yard were infested with cockroaches. The cells also had very little sunlight or ventilation.

8-year-olds detained

Scores of Palestinian minors in East Jerusalem have been detained for brief periods recently.

In order to accommodate the mass detentions, Israel converted the Oz police station in Jerusalem into an interrogation center.

According to Addameer, there is currently such a high rate of children being held for brief periods in Oz that the organization is unable to maintain accurate statistics on how many minors have been detained and released on house arrest.

“That’s the problem. There were so many arrests during October and the beginning of November, we couldn’t follow up on all the cases,” Rafat Sub Laban, an Addameer campaigner, said.

Children as young as 7 or 8 have reportedly been detained at Oz without the presence of their parents, a violation of the Israeli Youth Law that prohibits the interrogation and detention of children under the age of 12.

Several children profiled by Addameer had been picked up off the street and beaten during their arrest and interrogation at Oz.
In addition to being released on house arrest, one child was told that he was forbidden to speak to a list of 15 friends and relations.

Charlotte Silver is a journalist based in Oakland, California. Twitter: @CharESilver.

Ramzy Baroud: Spreken wij ons uit voor de waarde van menselijkheid of zoeken wij de zondebokken?


Kunnen wij onze menselijkheid behouden en het leed van alle slachtoffers delen of schuiven wij de verantwoordelijkheid van ons af?

Then they came for the French, a day after they blew up the Lebanese, and few days after the Russians, and before that the Turks and the Kurds, and during all of that the Syrians and the Iraqis. As for the Palestinians, they are murdered in installments. Who's next? No one really knows.

We keep telling ourselves 'it's just a transition' and all will be okay once the dust is settled. But the Russians and the Americans and everyone else keep on bombing, each insisting that they are bombing the right people for the right reason, and on the ground everyone is shooting at whomever they deem the enemy, the terrorist, a designation that is often redefined.

Gulf money is pouring in, purchasing bombs and recruits, barrel bombs are dropped daily and body parts are swept at the end of the day as if autumn leaves, and media vultures can't wait for the next bomb to go off so that they could conveniently assign blame: the refugees, the black people, the brown people, the immigrants.

Yet few speak out to recognize our shared humanity and victimhood. No, don't always expect the initials Isis to offer an explanation for all that go wrong, even if they do claim responsibility. Those who orchestrated the war on Iraq and those feeding the war in Syria and arming Israel cannot claim innocence either. It's all one massive bloody puzzle and not one single piece can possibly give us clarity or guidance.

The bottom line, we either live in dignity together or continue to perish alone, warring tribes and grieve-stricken nations. It's not just the matter of bomb here and another there; our humanity, in fact the future of the human race is at stake.

Politiek analist Ramzy Baroud op facebook, 14 november 2015 rond 02:00 uur

The real message from EU move to label Israeli settlement goods - door Ali Abunimah



Pas nu gaat de EU over tot een minimale etikettering van goederen van de kolonisten op bezet Palestijns en Syrisch land.

Palestinians wave a flag during a protest against Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah on 28 August - Shadi HatemAPA images

After years of dithering and delay, the European Union on Wednesday finally took the minimal step of requiring labels clearly marking goods that come from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian and Syrian land in violation of international law.
Palestinians welcomed the move, but are decidedly underwhelmed. Nonetheless the European step holds some important messages.
Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broad coalition that backs the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, said it was a “sign that European governments are reacting to public opinion, civil society campaigning and Israeli intransigence and are becoming more willing to take some basic action against Israeli violations of international law.”
But, Nawajaa added, “putting some labels on a small number of Israeli products is hardly a proportionate response to repeated Israeli war crimes.”

Not "Made in Israel"

Under the new regulation, labeling of goods imported into the EU “must be correct and not misleading.”

Products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights can no longer be marked “Made in Israel.”
The EU requires that the words “Israeli settlement” be added to the labels that consumers will see in stores.
It is unclear how the regulation will be enforced: Israeli exporters routinely deceive customs officials and retail chains about the origin of their goods.
The regulation also says that “products from Palestine that do not originate from settlements can be marked ‘product from Palestine’ or ‘product from West Bank (Palestinian product).’”
The EU considers “Palestine” to be limited, at most, to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip – just 22 percent of historic Palestine.
Article 1 Collective, a group that advocates for Palestinian rights under international law, had this tongue-in-cheek suggestion of what the new labels might look like:

EU hypocrisy

The EU move smacks of hypocrisy.
While taking a minor step, EU governments still refuse to end their arms trade and other material support for Israeli crimes, as hundreds of European trade unions and other organizations have demanded.
EU countries sent weapons and military exports to Israel worth $1 billion in 2012-13.
Greece, Italy and Germany continue to carry out joint training with the Israeli army, despite its well-documented war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere.
My colleague David Cronin has meticulously documented the myriad ways the EU funds and actively supports Israel’s war machine.
It is also notable that France has been particularly keen on the labeling of settlement goods. But what, ultimately, is its purpose if not to allow consumers to make the choice to boycott these goods?
Yet, France continues to hypocritically prosecute and fine its own citizens for the “crime” of calling for just such boycotts.
As long as such complicity continues, the EU labeling move – as much as it might anger Israel – is a fig leaf for European policies that continue to help Israel kill Palestinians and steal their land.

Nazi comparisons

Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Emanuel Nahshon said the new labeling policy was “discriminatory” and “smacks of boycott.”
In a sign of their anger, Israeli officials canceled meetings with EU counterparts.
As The New York Times reported, Israeli politicians condemned the move as an “echo of the Holocaust-era branding of European Jews and their storefronts with yellow stars.”
Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to Washington who is now a lawmaker in the government coalition, posted a photo on Facebook of a storefront in Nazi Germany daubed with a Star of David and the word “Jew,” and a sign telling Germans not to frequent Jewish-owned businesses.
Some Israel supporters posted images on social media of the EU flag emblazoned with a Nazi swastika.
The pro-Israel publication The New York Times hammered the point home in its own social media messaging:

Might as well show courage

These unhinged reactions holds two key messages. First, by comparing EU labeling to Nazism, Israel’s backers demonstrate that no tactic is too depraved or indecent.
Using the Nazi genocide to deflect criticism from Israel’s racist, illegal theft of land from Palestinians cheapens the lives of the millions of Jews murdered by Europeans.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself recently showed that such disgusting propaganda was fair game when he fabricated the story that Hitler got the idea for the Holocaust from a Palestinian.
The second lesson is one that chronically gutless European leaders should heed.
Once Israeli leaders have labeled you a Nazi, there’s really nothing worse they can say.
So if EU leaders are likened to Hitler for a move as minimal as mere labeling of settlement goods, then why not do something more courageous and effective?
The price is the same, so you might as well support all Palestinian rights and all legitimate means to achieve them.
But sadly, EU leaders are unlikely to absorb this. Instead, they’ve been trying to assuage Israel’s rage by professing a deep desire for even more cooperation and complicity with it, and downplaying the significance of the labeling move.
The most important message is this: EU leaders will continue to coddle Israel’s brutal regime of occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism unless European citizens maintain and escalate their valiant solidarity campaigns with the Palestinian people.
Ali Abunimah - The Electronic Intifada, 12 november 2015 

Donderdagochtend kidnapten IDF undercover militairen een Palestijnse patient en executeerden zijn neef in een ziekenhuis in Hebron



Undercover soldiers of the Israeli military invaded, on Thursday at dawn, the al-Ahli hospital in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, where they assassinated one Palestinian and kidnapped his seriously wounded cousin.

Azzam Shalalda (image from family members)

Video interview with a doctor from the hospital (The Guardian 12.11.15)

Eyewitnesses said the soldiers killed Abdullah Azzam Shalalda, 28 years of age, from Sa’ir town near Hebron, immediately after he entered the room of his wounded cousin, Azzam Ezzat Shalalda, who was shot and seriously injured by live rounds fired by a paramilitary Israeli settler in Hebron.

The eyewitnesses also reported that more than twenty undercover officers infiltrated the hospital before executing Shalalda in the Surgery Ward, approximately at 2:45 at dawn.

Click here to see the You Tube video

The soldiers first entered Azzam’s hospital room, handcuffed a person who was with him, and as Abdullah came out of the bathroom, they instantly shot him dead, and kidnapped Azzam.

It is worth mentioning that Azzam Shalalda, 20 years of age, was shot nearly a month ago while picking olives with his family in Sa’ir town, after a group of paramilitary Israeli settlers assaulted them, and opened fire on them; he suffered several gunshot injuries in the head and chest.

The Israeli military claimed that Azzam stabbed and moderately wounded an Israeli settler, and managed to escape despite his wounds.

The Israeli army confirmed that its soldiers, Shin Bet security officers and Border Police Officers carried out the deadly invasion into the hospital.

It is worth mentioning that the Israeli army on Thursday morning also surrounded the International Solidarity Movement’s headquarters in Hebron, and started battering the door down, and yelled through windows threatening to arrest everybody if they didn’t leave.

It is worth mentioning that the Israeli army had prevented the solidarity activists from entering the house for a week, and yesterday, Wednesday, was the first day they regained access to the house.

An Al Jazeera news crew was attacked by settlers around the same time on Thursday morning in downtown Hebron. Details about the attack are still forthcoming at the time of this report.

Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News, November 12, 2015 


‘It Has Become A Prison’: The ghettoization of Hebron door Megan Hanna



Sinds 1994, nadat de kolonist Goldstein een bloedbad aanrichtte in de Ibrahimi Moskee, is de oude binnenstad van Hebron, niet zo erg afgesloten geweest. 22 inwoners zijn vermoord sinds 1 oktober. 

Tel Rumeida Checkpoint (Photo: Megan Hanna)
Hebron’s Old City, located in the “H2 area” under full Israeli military control, is subject todramatic new restrictions introduced last week. Israeli soldiers seized several homes in the Tel Rumedia area and barred the residents from going in or out, declaring the area a military zone and banning access to non-residents, in a move that parallels security restrictions imposed recently upon areas of East Jerusalem.
Since the beginning of last month 22 Palestinians have been killed in Hebron, and nine in the Old City that has been the epicentre of escalating tensions.
Even for the 50 families who live in Tel Rumeida, who had a mere few days to register their name and ID card to the Israeli authorities, the plans will severely restrict their freedom of movement, as they will have to undergo rigorous security searches every time they wish to leave or enter their homes.
According to a resident of Tel Rumeida, “They told me I have the number 36 [on the list with who’s allowed to go in and out], it’s just like in prison. They try to make you a number, you’re not a person”.
Motasem Isied, 28, is a resident of Hebron and spoke to Mondoweiss  about recent events: “It’s pretty disturbing what is happening here. As Palestinians we are familiar with these incidents – night raids, tear gas and so on – but everybody is incredibly frustrated and sad about what is happening in Hebron, because it has never been like this”.
“Now areas are controlled by names, so if you’re not on the list you are not allowed in. Some residents aren’t even on the list, so they can’t reach their homes. Those who can are completely socially isolated”.

Israeli soldiers in watchtower overlooking Hebron. (Photo: Megan Hanna)

Israel rights group B’Tselem claimed that the “immoral” moves are “draconian and not dictated by reality”, and “constitute collective punishment of residents of Hebron who are suspected of nothing and are forced to suffer serious disruptions in their daily lives”.
An IDF official commented claiming the measures are in reaction to the recent rise of violence, and are aimed at separating the Jewish and Palestinian populations of the city.  Dubbed operation “Breathing Closure”, the plans have been enacted for vague “precautionary measures” to “contain potential attacks in the future and maintain the safety and well-being of Israelis”.

‘Young Palestinians are constantly a target’

On Oct. 26, Saad al-Atrash, 19, was shot seven times whilst walking in the Old City and left to bleed to death for 40 minutes, in what Amnesty International have called an “especially egregious case” of killings that seem more to resemble extrajudicial executions than acts of self-defense. Three days after al-Atrash was killed, another Palestinian identified as Mahdi al-Muhtasib, 23, was shot dead near the Ibrahimi Mosque.
“It was bad before, but the new order is shoot to kill, and then confirm the killing. They shoot then ask questions”, says Issa Amro, a local activist from Youths Against Settlements. “In the past, soldiers targeted people in the resistance, now there is the feeling among people that they will kill anyone”.
Dania Ersheid’s inert body and blood-soaked headscarf presented a particularly shocking image of the grave situation unfolding in the city. The 17-year old student was fatally shot on Oct. 22nd on her way to school by the Ibrahimi checkpoint by Israeli soldiers. According to a news report “the teen raised her arms and stated “I don’t have a knife” before she was shot with “eight to 10 bullets” before she fell to the ground”.
Also among those killed was 23 year-old Houmam Adnan Isied, Mostaem’s cousin. Speaking of the incident, Mostasem said, “It is all happening to young people, they are being targeted in cold-blooded killings, including my relative. He was killed in an area with a lot of CCTV cameras, and they claimed he was trying to stab a soldier, so we demanded to see them. Of course they refused.”
“We haven’t been able to even bury him yet, he was supposed to be released this week. Then they made a condition that they would release him only at midnight, and we had until 3am to bury him. But they still haven’t given him back.”
When voicing his fear over the unpredictable aggression of the Israeli military, Motasem said, “I can remember what was happening in the 1990s during the first intifada, and I fully lived through the second. Even though it was really dangerous, everybody agrees that we have never felt unsafe in the way we do now. Because you never know when, or where, or what the soldiers are going to do to you. As a young Palestinian, you are targeted at any time and at any place in Hebron.”
An international activist living in Hebron told Mondoweiss: ” I’ve witnessed the Israeli armies continuous crackdown on Palestinians, not only in Tel Rumeida, but everywhere in the H2 area. Seeing body-searches of Palestinians at gunpoint is not a rarity anymore – all while settlers are freely walking the streets and are never stopped or checked at all.”
To date, 80 Palestinians have been killed in the spate of violence across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories that began at the beginning of last month. Of this figure, at least one third of Palestinians fatalities occurred in Hebron; where on average one Palestinian was wounded or killed every 3 hours in the city throughout October.

“It’s a ghost town now”

Empty market (Photo: Megan Hanna)

But such statistics have a limited scope in evoking the unsavoury reality of daily life for Palestinians currently living in Hebron. Motsaem spoke of how he is too anxious to go to the Old City now; “I went there only once recently, and there was no one in the streets, it was completely empty apart from soldiers. Shops by the Ibrahimi mosque have been under a direct military order to close for more than a week now, it’s affecting the families whose incomes rely on them”.
Hebron is unique compared to other cities in the West Bank due to the presence of 800 Zionist settlers living throughout the city, alongside double their number of Israeli soldiers who are predominantly based around 18 military checkpoints, which restrict the movement of 30,000 Palestinian inhabitants. Whilst the city is no stranger to violence and harsh military control, such extreme measures have not been imposed since the aftermath of the Goldstein Massacre in 1994, when Israeli authorities sealed access to certain areas and imposed a 24-hour curfew for six months. Residents are praying that these new military restrictions will not be as long-lived.
Megan Hanna - Mondoweiss, 11 november 2015
Megan Hanna is an independent freelance journalist and photographer, based in the occupied Palestinian territories. You can follow Megan on twitter via @Megan_Hanna_
Listen here the report (on video) by Stefanie Dekker Al Jazeera on 6 november 2015