Hebron Palestinians protest closures
Protests in the Occupied Palestinian city of Hebron continue for a fifth
consecutive day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
new Israeli "heritage" plan. In his plan, national and holy sites in Israel
Occupied Palestinian Territories will be classified as Israeli "heritage."
move comes at a time when tensions in the city are already high due to
takeovers and the commemoration of the 16th annual day of solidarity in
memory of the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre.
LIA TARACHANSKY (VOICEOVER), PRODUCER, TRNN: For five consecutive days, Palestinians and Israeli activists protested in the West Bank city of Hebron. Originally, demonstrations were scheduled for February 25, but after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his new heritage plan, protests spontaneously sprung up and continued till the weekend. Hebron is one of the largest cities in the occupied Palestinian territories and the birthplace of the Jewish settlement movement. It is the only West Bank city inside which settlers established colonies. Almost immediately after the Israeli takeover of Jordan’s West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War, Jewish religious settlers began taking over houses, and eventually whole neighborhoods. They do so by evicting the Palestinian residents, and often demolishing Palestinian homes, with the use of the army. Hebron has therefore come to symbolize the bellwether of the conflict. The settlers have faced fierce resistance, and clashes often lead to fatal incidents on both sides. Human Rights Watch reported the Israeli army, which has a large presence in the city, often practices indiscriminate firing in the Palestinian areas. The city therefore also has an international observer force.
AL FAHOURI, ISLAM: Yeah, from this way, the Palestinian people walk; from the other side, the Israeli settlers.
TARACHANSKY: When Jewish settlers take over a house, restrictions are imposed on Palestinians in the neighborhood, and surrounding homes are evicted by the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]. Random houses become military bases, and their locks are removed to allow soldiers and Israeli police free access.
AL FAHOURI, ISLAM: From the Jewish side, every day, not allowed for the people Arab to go to the Jewish side. So only from holiday, the people, Muslims, [can] go from the Jewish side. So all the people, you go to the mosque, you go from this way. Twenty years ago have, like, 600 families Palestinian living from city. Now it was the intifada and the problem, only have, like, 200 families Palestinian living inside from the city. And every day, the Israeli settlers [inaudible] rubbish, glass from the people Arab [who] walk from the market. So we have, like, 120 checkpoints from the city and inside from the mosque. Nobody living inside from these houses, because these are houses behind the Avraham Avinu settlement.
TRANSLATOR: "A good Arab is a dead Arab." A brave Arab (literally "a real man") is an Arab in a grave. A cool Arab is a construction worker.
AL FAHOURI, ISLAM: The army writes this.
TARACHANSKY: In 1994 a religious settler from the violent extremist group the Jewish Defense League opened fire in a mosque, killing 29 Palestinians, during a period of high tensions. The day, February 25, became known as the international day of solidarity with the anti-settler flight in Hebron. Half the mosque, known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, was later turned into a synagogue. Shuhada Street, on which the mosque is found, was close to Palestinians in 2000. The Israeli army argues the closures and curfews it imposes on the Palestinians of Hebron are a security measure and is for their protection. The closure of Shuhada Street had a major impact on the local economy, as it was a major commercial area whose shops today remain shut. Every year, demonstrations commemorate the massacre and protest the closures. On Thursday, which marked the 16th year of solidarity, both planned and spontaneous protests attempted to march on Shuhada Street. They were met with tear gas and shock grenades. Protests continued into the following day when Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad attended the Friday prayers at the contested mosque. Palestinian dissent and army repression is predicted to continue escalating, as Netanyahu announced last week his administration will be starting major restorations as part of the Tamar or Heritage Infrastructure Plan. Under the plan, Netanyahu will be classifying dozens of national and holy sites as Israeli heritage, as a way to celebrate what the prime minister referred to as the Zionist period. Among them is the Cave of the Patriarchs, where the mosque massacre took place 16 years ago. Some Israeli security officials called the move to include West Bank sites in the plan a mistake, saying it will only escalate tensions.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee complete accuracy.