Just Another day of Discrimination and Apartheid in Hebron

23.05.11 – 12:14| PNN

By Vicky Orwel – PNN – Some of the streets in Hebron on Sunday saw Palestinians put under a four hour curfew from 15.00 until 19.00 in order to facilitate a Jewish tour of the old city for the Jewish settler population living in the area.

ImageThe group of settlers gathered in Shuhadah Street at checkpoint 56, which is a checkpoint normally used on a daily basis by Palestinians entering to the market, and as the main access point from which they can go to the shopping streets, the transport places, including taxi ranks and bus stations and many other areas in the old city which are frequented by the Palestinian inhabitants.

The Israeli Army enforced the curfew, closing all shops in the area (because they are owned and run by Palestinains) and ensuring that all Palestinians living in the areas designated for the tour were in their homes between the stated times of the tour. The usual Palestinian Authority army which is situated in the area of Bab Zaweyah in the old city were temporarily removed and replaced with Israeli soldiers in order to ensure the curfew and protect the settlers on the tour.

The settlers, who argue that Hebron is a city which belongs entirely to the Jews, claim that they miss the part of the city of Hebron that is under the control of the PA. This area which is also known as H1 is the Arab side of the city so to speak and where despite numerous evictions, land confiscations and restrictions imposed here still exists a huge historical city. The settlers of the city embarked on a tour to remind themselves and their youth of what they call the need to fight for what they believe to be a promised land from God to them as Jews.

The ideological Jews living in Hebron are not satisfied with the Hebron Agreement, which made a division of the city following the Oslo Accords. Instead they utterly dispute the Oslo Accords signed in 1993 and maintain that the entire city should be for Jewish inhabitants without any Arab right to live there at all. Their claim to Hebron is based on disputed historical events and religious affiliations.

Among the most important of the historical sites in Hebron is the Ibrahimi Mosque in Islam or Cave of the Patriarchs as it is known in Judaism, which is a holy and sacred place for all the three Abrahamic religions and the site of much conflict and blood shed in the past. A shooting spree committed by an Israeli-American settler during the morning prayers in February 1994, left 29 Palestinian Muslims dead and many more injured. The resulting riots culminated in a further 35 deaths and subsequent closure of the  mosque for Muslim prayers for some time.

On February 21, 2010, Israel announced that it would include the site in a national heritage site protection and rehabilitation plan. The announcement sparked protests from the UN, Arab governments and the United States. A subsequent UNESCO vote in October aimed to affirm that the “al-Haram al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil/Hebron” was “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories..”

Settler tours around the Palestinian areas of Hebron are a regular occurrence, however, needless to say that you will not find any Palestinian tours of the Jewish areas of Hebron, even for families to visit derelict houses that they once lived as part of a united and thriving Arab community in Hebron. On the contrary Palestinians are kept away from any settlement areas and are not allowed even to use access ways which were once part of the infrastructure of the city leading to communities throughout. There are also numerous tedious and degrading checkpoints and hostile Israeli soldiers on every corner in the settlement areas (known as H2) where some Palestinians still remain in their homes defiant of Settler violence and attempts to remove them from their homes.

The unfettered racial inequity and discriminative application of rights in favour of the Jewish settlers in Hebron is clear throughout city. The settlement tours are a reminder to all those living Hebron of just who is in control and that the will of the Israeli settlers will always be realized over any rights or freedoms of the Palestinians. Such scenes in this long fought over city stand as a stark reminder of the fact that the phenomenon of apartheid is very much alive here.

The people of Hebron are however, standing together and fighting against this blatant apartheid scheme, such organizations as One World for Justice and the Palestinian Commission of Cultural Exchange and Human Rights are trying to take legal steps against the apartheid system in international courts on the basis that such an apartheid is against international law, in particular the Geneva Conventions and the UN Declarations of Human Rights. On the premise that as such Israel should be held accountable and not allowed to simply continue with the discriminative application of fundamental Human Rights.

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