A Jewish settler argues with an Israeli policeman during a protest by Palestinians in Hebron February 10, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)
A group of volunteer Palestinian civilian monitors have replaced the international observers who left Hebron last week.
On their first day on the Hebron streets the volunteers walked down Shuhada Street wearing blue vests with the word “observer” written on them in Hebrew, Arabic and English.
They paused by the Israeli apartment complex, Beit Hadassah, to guard Palestinian pupils whose walking route passes straight by Beit Hadassah, and gave the children pens and notebooks.
A number of Hebron Jewish residents immediately began to shout at the Palestinian observers, and one of them took out a video camera to monitor their movements.
“Get out of here! Go to hell,” yelled a Jewish man, whose movements were caught on camera and posted on Youtube.
A religious Jewish woman, with her head covered, physically lashed out at the observers.
Israeli police and IDF soldiers at the scene tried to separate the two groups.
Activist Issa Amro of Hebron, who organized the group, said that they plan to be out there every morning from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.
“We decided to establish a group to give Palestinian residents [of Hebron] a feeling of safety, and to document the human rights violations in the area,” Amro told The Jerusalem Post, adding that the monitors have been instructed not to react to the violence they may experience as observers.
On Sunday, “I was slapped in the face and I was kicked” by settlers in front of the police, he said.
Amro said that he organized the group after Israel last month shut down the observer mission – known as the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) – that had been manned by 64 civilians from Norway, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland and Italy.
Mahmoud Zghayar, of Youth Against Settlements, told the Palestinian media that in TIPH’s absence, “These areas have become exposed to assaults against children and all residents.”
TIPH had operated in Hebron for 22 years, based on a mandate that was renewed every six months by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Right-wing politicians pressured Netanyahu not to renew the mandate, claiming that TIPH had incited against the Jewish community in Hebron. It cited an incident in which a TIPH staff member slashed the tire of a Jewish vehicle, and another in which the organization’s legal adviser slapped a Jewish child.
Last week, the United States stopped
the UN Security Council from issuing a statement condemning Israel’s decision to end TIPH’s mandate.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said, ”There is no place in Israel or anywhere in the world for an international force to harm the country in which it operates.”
“Instead of maintaining order and neutrality, TIPH observers used violence, created friction with the civilian population, and interfered with security forces. The United States stands by Israel’s right to not renew TIPH’s mandate and to act on its own accord to ensure stability, without the help of a violent, biased international force. That the Palestinians want to maintain violent observers in Hebron attests to their intentions,” Danon said.
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