Military closes main entrance to two Hebron neighborhoods for six days
On 4 May 2017, the Israeli military extended the fence it installed in 2012 at the main entrance to the Gheith and a-Salaimeh neighborhoods in Hebron. The fence was fitted with a single gate, which the military said soldiers would open every day from six o’clock in the morning until ten at night, allowing local residents passage. Over the last year, however, the military has often refused to open the gate even during these hours. The closure of these neighborhoods has had a particularly harmful effect on school children, as they are forced to take an alternative route, which involves crossing a military checkpoint. It also extends the distance by 500 meters and runs through a dark alley that some students are afraid to take.
On Friday, 11 May 2018, the military closed the gate and did not reopen it. On Sunday, 13 May, students returning from school found the gate still closed. The mothers of these children came out of their homes, gathered on the other side of the gate and beseeched the Border Police officers stationed there to open it. The officers refused, accused the mothers of “agitation” and threatened to arrest them. The officers also said the gate had been closed as “punishment” for stone throwing. Some of the children climbed over the fence. The officers drove the other children away from the area. The gate was reopened on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 5:00 P.M.
The closure of the two neighborhoods constitutes collective punishment, which is prohibited under international law. It is yet another example of Israel’s arbitrary abuse of the civilian population in Hebron in particular and in the Occupied Territories in general, and of its policy of segregation in the city.
Filmed by Muhammad al-Rajab and B'Tselem by volunteer Nisreen Fakhuri