The Temporary International Presence in Hebron “regrets” the incidents of violence by its civilian observers against the Jewish community in Hebron, a Foreign Ministry source said on Tuesday night.
Earlier in the day Israel summoned TIPH head Brig.-Gen. Einar Johnsen to the Foreign Ministry over the publication of a video that showed one of its staff members slashing the tire of a Jewish-owned vehicle in the city.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Foreign Ministry to act after the incident, which occurred a year ago, was published on Channel 2.
It follows the release earlier this month of a video of TIPH’s legal counsel slapping a 10-year Jewish child in Hebron
across the face. After the footage was released, the TIPH member was ordered to leave Israel.
A Foreign Ministry source said that in the meeting, Johnsen “expressed his regret.”
He made it “clear that those TIPH monitors that were involved in inappropriate activity were immediately sent back to the countries,” the source said.
Johnsen said that TIPH had learned from those incidents how to prevent similar situations in the future, the source said.
TIPH could not be reached for comment. It’s 64-member observer force has operated in Hebron since 1997, when the Hebron Agreement split the city placing 80 percent of the city’s 200,000 residents under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority, and the remainder under IDF rule. Hebron’s Jewish community of some 1,000 people lives in the section of the city under IDF control.
On Tuesday, the Jewish community called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end TIPH’s mandate, which is renewed twice a year by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and to oust the observers from the city.
The Foreign Ministry must inform Johnsen of the move during its meeting with him, Hebron’s Jewish community said.
“Hebron has no place for a hostile and provocative group whose actions disturb the peace and well-being of Hebron residents,” the community said. It has no added value to the city and “now everyone understands that the damage it does,” Hebron’s Jewish community said.
TIPH on its web page described itself as a “civilian observer mission present in the city of Hebron,” that supports “efforts to improve the situation in Hebron and to create a sense of security for the Palestinians in Hebron.”
TIPH is financed and staffed by Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
Its observers patrol the city seven days a week “to assist in the monitoring obligations in the Hebron Agreement. TIPH observers are not authorized to intervene in incidents or disputes but enjoy freedom of movement in the city of Hebron,” its website said.
“TIPH observers have the right to document their observations with cameras, including taking photos of the IDF, buildings and incidents. TIPH observers enjoy diplomatic immunity so they can carry out their tasks. They cannot be detained or arrested.”
“Since 1997 TIPH has written more than 20,000 [confidential] reports, serving as a witness and archive of the events taking place in the city over the years,” its website said.
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