Ma’an: Israeli Military Declares Section of Hebron “Closed Military Zone” After Settler Riot

23 November 2008

Israeli forces closed down the northern section of Hebron on Saturday, declaring the entire half of the city a “closed military zone” as soldiers occupied five houses and forced shop owners, at gunpoint, to close early.

“No sooner had Israeli soldiers handed me a warrant saying that military forces planned to occupy my home did 20 soldiers storm the house,” said 42-year-old Bassam Al-Ja’abary, whose home was one of the five taken over by Israeli soldiers.

“Then they climbed up to the roof and prevented my family from leaving,” he added.

His and the other four houses are located in the Wadi An-Nasara neighborhood, close to the home of the Rajabi family home, which Jewish settlers occupied in March 2007.

Other homes belong to Minwir Jabir, Abed Jabir, Munthir Adnan and the Idreis family.

Al-Ja’bary added that despite the presence of Israeli soldiers on the tops of buildings, the deployment did not prevent Jewish settlers from attacking Palestinian homes in the area, some of which were pelted with stones.

The latest Israeli military activity comes under unusually tense circumstances in the city, following an Israeli Higher Court-ordered evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Rajabi house 20 months after they occupied it.

Israeli sources reported that the army had sent several infantry units to the area. They added that security services were “placed on alert” in anticipation of the arrival of more than 20,000 settlers to Hebron for the Jewish Shabat, which coincides with an annual religious feast.

Israeli sources said on Friday that the army expects settlers to attempt to remain in Hebron in order to prevent evacuation of the occupied Ar-Rajabi house.

Hebron Governor Hussein Al-A’raj had asked Israeli authorities to speed up their implementation of the Higher Court’s decision because “settlers have rendered the lives Palestinian citizens unbearable” in recent weeks.