Palestinians in al-Khalil repeatedly attacked by Israel settlers, soldiers Palestinian families live in caves to escape Israel oppression
Middle East Monitor de Oriente
Palestinians in the Al-Harika neighbourhood of al-Khalil (Hebron) are being subjected to repeated attacks by Israeli settlers and soldiers, reported human rights NGO B’Tselem, as the organisation published details of five such documented attacks that took place from July to November.
Palestinians react against Israeli soldiers' intervention during a protest against construction of Jewish settlements in Hebron, West Bank on 22 November 2019. [ Mamoun Wazwaz - Anadolu Agency ]
Al-Harika lies in the southern part of Hebron’s city centre, and is home to 3,000 Palestinians. Since 1972, Kiryat Arba settlement – population now 7,000 – has been located next to the neighbourhood.
According to B’Tselem, “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,” B’Tselem added.
In addition to routine stone-throwing by settlers, Al-Harika’s residents “suffer military raids on the neighbourhood almost every day”, with soldiers using stun grenades and tear gas canisters.
In one incident on 4 November documented by B’Tselem, soldiers entered a Palestinian family compound on 4 November, ostensibly “looking for stone-throwers”.
After arguing with a resident, soldiers threw a stun grenade, then departed from the compound, throwing another stun grenade and a tear gas canister.
On the 3 November, soldiers were captured on video leading a 13-year-old Palestinian child around the neighbourhood while blindfolded. As they did so, the soldiers “threw stun grenades and tear gas canisters at neighbourhood homes”.
One officer is shown waving a tear gas canister and saying to one of the residents: “This is going to be inside your house in a few minutes, okay. One minute and I’m there. Five minutes and it’s at your place. Get the kids inside, it’d be a shame…”
According to B’Tselem, such cases – and many others – “illustrate how fragile, exposed and unpredictable life has become for Palestinians living in al-Harika.”
“Israel’s policy in this area creates exasperating, impossible living conditions for local residents, which are manifested in violence by security forces and settlers, with backing from the Israeli authorities. This leads Palestinians to abandon homes and businesses in the neighbourhood.”
Living in caves
A Palestinian woman prepares a meal for her children at her cave near the West Bank city of Hebron, 24 July 2013 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Apaimages]
More than 19 Palestinian families have taken refuge in caves in the Al-Mufqara village near Hebron to escape Israeli aggression.
Fifty-year-old Mohammed Hassan said he moved to the cave last year with seven members of his family after Israeli occupation forces demolished their home.
Hassan explained that the Israeli occupation authorities continue to impose restrictions on Palestinians in order to expel them from their homes and seize their lands to allow settlers to occupy them.
A total of approximately 100 Palestinians living in the caves lack access to water, electricity, schools and roads. They rely on rainwater and harvest their own food, many work as shepherds.
The European Union has in recent years provided the residents with semi-permanent homes made of corrugated iron and solar panels to generate electricity. However, Israel has repeatedly demolished the homes and confiscated the electricity generators.