Palestinians in the Al-Harika neighbourhood of 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.
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.”