Listen: Israeli army is “making our lives impossible,” says Hebron activist

Activists in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron have been staging an around-the-clock sit-in protest at an Israeli military checkpoint located at the entrance to​ Shuhada street in the Old City. The checkpoint leads to an area occupied by Israeli settlers. 

The protest began on 7 January, when local activists say a woman, Wafa Sharabati, was arrested at the checkpoint and harassed by Israeli soldiers. That assault came two months after a military order declared the area a “closed military zone” in an effort by Israel to impose tighter control over the neighborhood.

“The Israeli occupation forces are making our lives impossible,” Issa Amro, coordinator of local organization Youth Against Settlements, told The Electronic Intifada on Wednesday.

“We decided to start the sit-in tent in order to put pressure on the Israeli government to [lift] the closed military zone order on our area,” Amro explained.

Israel has closed the Youth Against Settlements center as part of the order, affecting the group’s work with local youth and solidarity activists and restricting their access to journalists.

Tel Rumeida is the site of one of five colonies in Hebron, where approximately 850 hostile settlers live within close quarters of Palestinians under the Israeli army’s guard.

Numbering residents

The army has assigned numbers to Palestinian residents of the neighborhood and only those designated residents may enter and leave the neighborhood.

“The residents must be registered with numbers assigned to them and may not have visitors to their houses,” states Youth Against Settlements.

This policy excludes Israeli settlers, who may come and go as they please while continuing to attack Palestinians and their homes.

The closed military zone order was renewed and geographically extended on 2 January.

“We don’t feel safe”

Issa Amro’s home has been included as part of the extension of the closed military zone order.

“We don’t feel safe inside the closed military zone,” Amro told The Electronic Intifada.

“A closed military zone means no life, no safety, no human rights — nothing. It’s only soldiers who are dealing with the Palestinians … you need to pass [through] a checkpoint to get to your house.”

Amro noted that access for ambulances and medical relief teams is also heavily restricted. Both are subjected to several levels of coordination between medical agencies, including clinics and hospitals, and the Israeli army.

Palestinians have been harassed, threatened, violently attacked and killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in and around Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood.

Since October 2015, Israeli forces have killed more than 150 Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Listen to the interview with Issa Amro via the media player above.

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Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).