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Why Hebron? Israel's Deadly Repression Of The Ongoing Palestinian Uprising

17 November 2015

By Khalid Amayreh

Al-Khalil (Hebron) has borne the brunt of Israel's deadly repression of the ongoing Palestinian uprising which began in the beginning of October.

According to the latest data, nearly 40% of the 75 victims of the Israeli state terror are from Hebron and surrounding towns and villages.

The latest victim was a youngster from the town of Sair north of Hebron, who eyewitnesses said was riddled with Israeli bullets Sunday afternoon on suspicion he was trying to stab an Israeli soldier.

Eyewitnesses said Israeli troops deployed at Beit Anon intersection refused to allow the bleeding young man to be transferred to hospital.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people participated in the solemn funeral procession for three young boys and two young women, shot dead earlier by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Israel, which had been withholding the bodies of the victims, says they were killed after trying to stab soldiers.

However, eyewitnesses attested that in several cases the victims were executed in cold blood on the mere suspicion that they were planning to stab Israelis.

In other cases, the victims found themselves in "the wrong place at the wrong time," thus falling victim to the Israeli occupation army's policy of shooting, or more correctly killing first and asking questions later.

Why Hebron?

The conspicuous vindictiveness characterizing Israeli repression in Hebron has prompted many locals to charge that Israel is waging an open war on the largest Palestinian district.

This vindictiveness has also generated a lot of indignation, with many youngsters vowing to keep up the struggle until Palestinians earn their freedom from the clutches of the Israeli occupation.

According to the latest news reports, the Israeli occupation army is adopting draconian measures against Palestinian neighborhoods in the Old Town, especially those contiguous to the Jewish settlement enclave near the Ibrahimi Mosque.

For many years, Israel came to consider Hebron as an extension of the Gaza Strip in the West Bank, especially in light of the prevalence of Islamic movements in the town and its environs.

In the 2006 legislative elections, the pro-Hamas list, the Change and Reform bloc, received the lion's share of the votes, badly defeating the western-backed secular nationalist movement, Fatah.

All in all, the pro-Hamas list won 74 seats out of the 132 contested seats, making up the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Now, 9 years later, and with the virtual collapse of the Oslo process, most Palestinians, especially in Hebron, feel deceived and cheated by Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and an international community that stood by rather passively as the Jewish state finished off any remaining realistic chances for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state thanks to the ubiquitous expansion of Jewish colonies all over the West Bank.

More to the point, the feeling of disillusionment is further exacerbated by the recurrent efforts by Messianic Jewish fanatics to arrogate a foothold at the Aqsa Mosque, one of the most contentious issues of the Palestinian-Israeli strife.

Many Palestinians, especially in the Hebron area, are convinced that Israel is planning to demolish the Aqsa Mosque in order to build a Talmudic Temple on the Islamic sanctuary's site.

Needless to say, this is viewed as the ultimate provocation as the Mosque, also known as the Haram al-Sharif or Noble sanctuary symbolizes the national existence of the Palestinian people on its ancestral homeland.

There is so much bad blood between Israel and the people of Hebron. In 1994, a Jewish terrorist murdered 29 Palestinians at the Ibrahimi Mosque as they were praying during the holy month of Ramadan.

Following the massacre, Israel adopted a vehemently hostile policy toward the local populace, employing every conceivable tactic to get them to leave the Old Town in order to settle Jewish settlers.

More to the point, Israel, using legal tricks, such as falsifying land rights, has been seizing Palestinian property for the purpose of expanding settler presence in Hebron.

The Hebron district has a population of about a million Palestinians which means that Israel is fighting a losing demographic battle, which explains the hysterical repression being meted out to the Palestinians.

Now with the Israeli Jewish society drifting further to the right, and with Israel having effectively killed whatever remaining prospects for a dignified, let alone just, solution of the conflict, it is probably safe to expect even harder days ahead for the Palestinians, especially in the Hebron region.

Khalid Amayreh is a veteran Palestinian journalist and political commentator living in the West Bank.  



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