HEBRON: Israeli Border Police, piqued by presence of international observers, shut gate in Old City

15 July 2007
HEBRON: Israeli Border Police, piqued by presence of international
observers, shut gate in Old City.

Just after 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday 11 July, the Israeli border police closed
a main gate in the H2 area of Hebron, saying that they were doing so because
of the presence of international monitors beside the nearby checkpoint.

At 11:10 a.m., one of these monitors called the Christian Peacemaker Team
(CPT) office in Hebron to inform CPTers that the Israeli military had closed
the gate leading from the Old City to the Ibrahimi mosque. When CPTers Jan
Benvie and Esther Kern arrived at the closed gate, approximately
thirty-three people were waiting to pass through the gate from the Old City.
Many of those waiting were children on their way home from the nearby mosque
soup kitchen, which provides soup and bread every day for families in need.
Also among the crowd were four Swiss and two Austrian visitors hoping to
visit the mosque/synagogue complex.

At 11:35 a.m., two international monitors on the other side of the gate
called Benvie to tell her that Israeli police were detaining them and taking
them to Kiryat Arba police station.

Eventually, at 11:45 a.m., at least thirty-five minutes after they had
closed the gate, the Israeli military unlocked and opened the gate. Among
the approximately twenty-five people whom the Israelis had detained on the
mosque side of the gate were at least ten children on their way to the soup
kitchen with their empty containers.

Benvie and Kern followed the crowd through the checkpoint. They asked the
border police on duty why the gate had been locked. One police officer
replied "It is closed because the TIPH (Temporary International Presence in
Hebron) men; they butt into our work" and another said "You make a mess for

An Israeli border police sergeant tried to stop Benvie and Kern from
standing in the area in front of the mosque or taking photographs. He
approached Benvie, who was videotaping, and initially threatened to detain
her if she did not leave the area. When she slowly walked away, he told her
to stop and again threatened to arrest her. Eventually, after speaking with
a civilian Israeli police officer, who declined to arrest Benvie, the border
police officer walked away.

Under the Hebron Protocol of 1997, the city is divided into H1, under
Palestinian Authority Control, and H2, under full Israeli control.
International law prohibits collective punishment, i.e., the punishment of
persons for acts committed by others. For further information, see (Article
33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (
Article 50 of the Hague Regulations
See also Temporary International Presence in Hebron (www.tiph.org
<http://www.tiph.org/>), an international monitoring team officially
recognized by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.