In September 2012, Israeli security forces put up a chain-link fence along al-Ibrahimi Street in Hebron, separating the paved road from a narrow, rough walkway. Since then, B’Tselem has twice documented security forces denying Palestinians access to the paved road, despite official claims that there is no such prohibition. On 25 July 2016, B’Tselem volunteer Raed Abu Ramileh filmed a Border Police officer seizing the bicycle of 8-year-old Anwar Burqan and throwing it in the bushes for riding it down the paved road, which is reserved for settlers.
Hebron city center
On 1 July 2016, a Border Police officer shot and killed Sarah Hajuj, a 27-year-old Palestinian woman from Bani Nai’m, at a checkpoint at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The Israel Police said the woman had tried to stab a policewoman. B’Tselem’s investigation and video footage indicate that the shooting was unjustified, as Hajuj - whose face had been pepper-sprayed - was alone in a room with armed policemen at the door. The shooting is part of a broadly-backed policy that permits lethal fire not only as a last resort, and grants the shooters immunity.
Testimonies to B’Tselem indicate that during the Mar. 24 incident in which a soldier executed ‘Abd al-Fatah a-Sharif, an action for which he is now standing trial, Ramzi al-Qasrawi was also executed. The two men had stabbed a soldier, who was lightly injured. Since the recent wave of violence began in Oct., a good number of cases were captured on video showing executions of Palestinians who stabbed or were suspected of stabbing Israeli security personnel or civilians. The trial currently underway is an exception to the rule, as law enforcement agencies usually willfully turn a blind eye to this reality.
On 24 May 2016, dozens of soldiers went through Jaber neighborhood, Hebron. They assembled about 20 children and teens against a wall, asked them about a stone-throwing incident earlier that day, photographed each and let them go. At least 14 were minors, incl. 7 under the age of criminal liability. This questionably legal conduct, in blatant disregard of the duty to safeguard the rights of minors, appears to have been meant to intimidate the children so as to deter them from throwing stones. The military cannot treat civilians, let alone minors, as potential lawbreakers.
Yesterday (4 May) Raed Abu a-Rmeileh, a former B’Tselem camera volunteer, and two friends were assaulted by settlers when Abu a-Rmeileh tried to film them harassing two girls with a dog. He was hit on the head with a drink can and knocked to the ground. The settlers then assaulted his friends and fled. Soldiers present did nothing to stop the attack or help Abu a-Rmeileh, who was later taken to hospital with a light head injury. After his release today, he filed a police complaint, provided the footage and identified the assailants’ photos.
B’Tselem director wrote yesterday to OC Central Command and Chief of Police informing them of death threats made against ‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, the B’Tselem volunteer who filmed the incident in which a soldier shot and killed ‘Abd al-Fatah a-Sharif in Hebron. El-Ad requested assurance that the military and police commanders are aware of the danger to which Abu Shamsiyeh and his family are exposed. Since the footage was released, Abu Shamsiyeh and his family have been subjected to threats of murder, stones thrown at their home, and hateful posts on Facebook. Most of this violence was instigated by settlers.
According to the media, two Palestinians were shot dead this morning after stabbing a soldier in Hebron. The soldier sustained medium-level injuries. Video footage shows one of the attackers lying on the road injured, with none of the soldiers or medics present attending to him. A soldier is then seen shooting him dead from close range. Extrajudicial killings are the direct result of inflammatory remarks by politicians and a public atmosphere of dehumanization. The message is clear: attempting to injure an Israeli means a death sentence.
Since early October 2015, the military has imposed broad restrictions on Palestinian movement in central Hebron, preventing residents from maintaining a reasonable routine. The military has blocked the entrances to some streets in the Old City, closed the Tel Rumeidah neighborhood to non-residents, introduced stricter inspections at 16 existing checkpoints, and established new checkpoints. Passersby are subjected to repeated and lengthy inspections and residents report that they feel imprisoned, leaving home only for work and studies.
Today is International Human Rights Day, marking the UN’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that states all people deserve life, security, liberty, equality and dignity. On the other side of the Green Line, a line essentially invisible to Israelis, millions of people – Palestinian residents of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip - are being deprived of their rights, a deprivation particularly blatant in Hebron. To mark the day, we made a clip on the background to current events in Hebron, and the daily oppression in a city that has become a flashpoint for violent flare-ups.
Hebron residents are under increased travel restrictions since 29 Oct. Tel Rumeidah has been particularly affected: it was made off-limits to anyone not a neighborhood resident; locals may enter and exit only subject to strict screening. Palestinian stores in Hebron’s Old City are closed by military orders. These steps, alleged by the military to serve security, constitute collective punishment of Hebron residents, who are suspected of no wrongdoing, and must suffer serious disruptions to their daily lives, simply because of where they happen to live.
On 27 Oct. B’Tselem’s Hebron researcher Manal al-Ja'bri was injured documenting a protest. A rubber-coated metal bullet fired by Israeli security forces fractured a finger in her left hand. She was filming clashes between security forces and Palestinian youth near the Bab a-Zawiya Checkpoint, Hebron. Al-Ja'bri, in a blue B’Tselem vest, was standing with a group of journalists across the street and at a distance from the Palestinian stone throwers. There was no apparent reason for security forces to fire at her or at other journalists there.
B’Tselem documented a five-day (6-10 Oct. 2015) campaign of violence by settlers against Palestinians in Hebron. Settlers repeatedly threw stones and bottles at Palestinian homes near the Kiryat Arba settlement fence, while Israeli security forces looked on. Settler violence intensified after two attacks by Palestinians in Hebron: a settler sustained serious injuries and a Border Police officer was slightly injured; one perpetrator fled, the other was shot to death. In another incident, a confrontation developed with settlers and Palestinians throwing stones at each other. Soldiers stood by the former and fired tear-gas at the latter. This glimpse of daily life in Hebron is an extreme example of the imbalance of power throughout the West Bank, in which Israeli forces back settler violence targeting Palestinians.
On Tues. Sep. 22, soldiers shot and fatally wounded Hadil al-Hashlamun, 18, at a Hebron checkpoint. B’Tselem’s investigation indicates she had concealed a knife in her cloths and did not obey the soldiers’ orders, but that she did not try to stab them. After she was shot in both legs, there was no justification to aim at her torso. The military’s knee-jerk defense of the soldiers sends a message that there are few limits on the use of force against Palestinians, including lethal force.
In early April 2015 the Abu Haya family were subjected to repeated threats and harassment by Israeli security forces in Hebron. Among other things, soldiers detaining Maher Abu Haya (14) for alleged involvement in a stone-throwing incident near his home. After the boy denied the allegations, soldiers threatened to arrest him if he is seen once more in the vicinity of a stone-throwing incident, regardless of his involvement. For a week, soldiers came time and again to the family’s home and harassed them. The family, volunteers in B’Tselem’s camera project, filmed some of the incidents.
The severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the vicinity of the settlements in Hebron encourage the arbitrary and regular harassment of the residents. B'Tselem volunteer Raed Abu a-Rmeileh filmed a video showing what happened to an ice cream delivery intended for a grocery store owned by Anwar Maswdeh.
On 10 March ‘15, soldiers entered the home of ‘Imad and Fayzeh Abu Shamsiyeh, B'Tselem volunteers in Hebron. They awoke the children, photographed them, viewed footage filmed by the couple of life in Hebron and of Israeli security forces, and confiscated a hard disk and a memory card with data. Photographing and documentation are permitted in the West Bank, including of soldiers. B'Tselem urges the army to immediately return the confiscated property unharmed, and refrain from harassing its volunteers or hampering the work of photographers.
The military resumed its segregation on the main street of a-Salaimeh neighborhood, in force from Sep. 2012 to Mar. 2013 when it was abandoned following to the airing of footage by B'Tselem. The military again bans Palestinians from the main part of the street, directing them to a narrow side road. This is part of the military’s overall policy of severe restrictions on Palestinian movement in downtown Hebron, implemented ever since the 1994 massacre of Muslim worshippers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs perpetrated by settler Baruch Goldstein.
Late at night on 23 Feb. 2015 Israeli troops entered 10 neighboring apartments in Hebron. They demanded that the children be awakened, asked their names and photographed them. B’Tselem volunteers who live there filmed the incident. The military cannot treat civilians–and certainly not children–as potential criminals. Not only is this policy of entering Palestinian homes by night unjust and terrifying. It illustrates how casually and arbitrarily the lives of Palestinians under occupation are disrupted and their rights violated. B’Tselem calls on the military to discontinue this policy without delay.
Bab a-Zawiya checkpoint monitors passage of Palestinians from Tel Rumeidah to downtown Hebron. Its closure collectively punished hundreds for the actions of a few individuals. The checkpoint, like other restrictions on Palestinian movement in Hebron, serves no security purpose and is part of Israel’s separation policy in Hebron. The military must remove this and other unnecessary checkpoints in central Hebron. As long as the checkpoint remains, the military must enable regular passage and refrain from collective punishment.
On 4 Dec. 2014 two settlers were driving near Wadi a-Nasara checkpoint when a Palestinian youth threw stones at them. They got out of the car and attempted pursuit. Footage by a B’Tselem camera volunteer shows that when the pursuit proved unsuccessful, they vandalized nearby Palestinian property. Police and soldiers who arrived at the scene did not detain the two and allowed them to leave unhindered. This incident is part of the reality of live in Hebron, with the military and the police standing by as settlers take the law into their own hands.