Sexism, homophobia and harassment by settlers and soldiers: life’s routine in Hebron
Around 4:00 P.M on 13 May 2021, during 'Eid al-Fitr, about 10 settlers came up to the fence the military put up around the Palestinian neighborhood. They threw stones at Palestinian passersby on the street by the fence and at nearby homes, in full view of several soldiers who did nothing to stop them. Meanwhile, some 15 soldiers raided the Da'na family's home on the same street, claiming that a family member had thrown a stone from the roof. They searched the house, breaking a window and acting rudely. They also tried to prevent Mai Da'na, a volunteer with B'Tselem's camera distribution project who lives there, and her sister-in-law Manal al-Ja'bari, B'Tselem's field researcher in Hebron, from filming them, threatening to break the latter's camera.
After about an hour and a half, the soldiers left the house without making an arrest, and left the street without taking any action against the settlers, who continued to throw stones onto the street that same night, and throughout the following days. Settlers and soldiers also verbally harassed with homophobic and sexist slurs the Palestinians who documented their actions.
The neighborhood of al-Harika is located in the southern part of Hebron’s city center (Area H2), and is home to some 3,000 Palestinians. In 1972, the settlement of Kiryat Arba was built next to the neighborhood and now has a population of about 7,000. The proximity of the settlement means that al-Harika residents suffer constant harassment by settlers, who are protected by the military. The attacks include verbal abuse, stone throwing and other forms of physical assault, and intensify on weekends and Jewish holidays.
The Palestinian neighborhood and the Israeli settlement are separated by a 1.5-kilometer-long mesh fence. Settlers routinely stand behind the fence and throw stones at four residential buildings on the other side. The buildings are home to the extended Da’na family, which has about 200 members, including some 60 children. In response, some residents from the neighborhood throw stones back. The clashes invariably end with the military coming to the aid of the settlers, hurling stun grenades and tear gas canisters at the Palestinian homes. B’Tselem has also documented past incidents of verbal sexual harassment by settlers against Palestinian residents.
In addition to the settler attacks, al-Harika’s residents suffer military raids on the neighborhood almost every day, carried out ostensibly in search of stone throwers. The soldiers throw stun grenades and tear gas canisters in the streets, and sometimes into homes as well. They stop children on the streets and interrogate them about stone throwing. Soldiers also invade homes late at night, wake up families and question children about stone throwing.