11 April 2015
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Rise in Israeli
military restrictions during Passover
[Note: The following release has been adapted for
CPTnet. The original is available on CPT
In the days surrounding Passover, CPT witnessed the Israeli
military locking girls out of their school, creating new construction around
Palestinian buildings, and in general generating even greater restrictions on
Palestinians’ freedom of movement in Hebron.
Below are some of the incidents of oppression that CPT
documented throughout the week:
Tuesday 31 March—In the continuing settlement
expansion in the Abu Rajab building, Israeli forces put up several
concrete blocks forming a wall next to the building. Speculation rippled
throughout the Palestinian neighborhood as to what the military’s intent was
with this construction. When CPTers questioned the purpose of the wall,
one Israeli soldier eventually muttered ‘Pesach’ (Passover). Israeli
soldiers also occupied an office between the Abu Rajab building and Al Fayha
Elementary School. CPTers saw computers, maps, and military posters
inside the building and military trucks, satellites, and other equipment parked
Wednesday 1 April—Students and teachers arrived to find that
Israeli forces had locked the front gates of Al Fayha Elementary School, after
two days of undisclosed military activity and construction in buildings
adjacent to the school. Two hundred fifty elementary school girls were required
to enter their school through a back alley and study next door to unknown
military actions. The principal asked CPT to provide a protective
presence for the next week as children were coming to and leaving school.
Thursday 2 April—Palestinian girls from Al Fayha Elementary
School tried to make sense of why the IDF parked a military vehicle directly in
front of their school, blocking the front doors. Several of the small
children anxiously ran past the soldiers on their way between home and school.
Friday 3 April—As the start of Passover approached, Israeli
forces increased their patrols throughout the Old City of Hebron and tightened
up the flow of civilian traffic through military checkpoints. During one
such incident, soldiers arrested Kamal Saleh al-Batsh for physically not being
able to spread his legs far enough during a military body search because he has
stainless steal inserts in his legs. Israeli soldiers blindfolded him and
tied him up before leading him away.
Sunday 5 April—Israel closed the Ibrahimi Mosque to
Palestinian Muslim worshippers for two days during Passover celebrations.
Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers and Border Police entered the H1 area of
Hebron—which is supposedly under Palestinian Authority control—in preparation
for a group of Israeli settlers making a pilgrimage. The Israeli military
searched Palestinian houses, forced shops to close, and then escorted the group
of settlers through the H1 area of Hebron.
Monday 6 April—A special Passover settler tour made
its way through Hebron’s Old City. Israeli soldiers and border police closed
Bab il Baladiya—the entrance to Hebron’s Old City—by blocking the way with two
military jeeps. The IDF, Border Police, and civil police in plain clothes
also entered the Palestinian market in preparation for the tour, with soldiers
positioning themselves at intervals along the way. Five large groups of
settlers and religious tourists, ushered by Israeli forces, descended from the
military base and toured through the market over the course of three and a half
These incidents of Israeli military aggression, and other cases
of oppression and discrimination in Hebron, violate various
articles of The Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to education, the
right to religious worship, and the right to freedom of movement. And it
is lamentable that these violations of human rights come during Passover, a
time commemorating freedom from captivity.
U.S. Peacemakers, as
April 15 approaches, consider that your money could be supporting the
accompaniment and documentation of CPT’s Palestine team.