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Palestinian children demonstrate against Israeli occupation in Hebron

Aug. 29, 2017 2:49 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 29, 2017 2:49 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Dozens of children and their parents demonstrated south of the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron’s Old City in the occupied West Bank on Monday against the ongoing presence of Israeli settlers in the area and the Israeli army’s restrictions on Palestinian movement.

Coordinator for the local activist group Youth Against Settlement Issa Amro told Ma'an that the demonstration was the first activity of a local and international campaign against the Israeli occupation's "ethnic discrimination and apartheid" policy in the center of Hebron. 

The campaign, he said, will include local activities, demonstrations, sit-ins, voluntary events, and protest tents. 

Organizers of the campaign will also install street signs and billboards using the original names of Palestinian neighborhoods. In addition, there will be signs illustrating the history of Hebron's Old City to visitors, to contend with signs that have been installed by Israeli settlers. 

Amro, who is known for advocating non-violent resistance and is facing charges in Israeli military court related to his activism, added that the organizers would contact international organizations to organize solidarity activities abroad, which, he said, would help to put pressure on the Israeli occupation. 

Amro explained that the Salayma and Gheith neighborhoods south of the Ibrahimi mosque, where Monday’s action took place, were suffering from the approximately 10 Israeli military checkpoints clustered in the small area.

The Israeli army, he added, recently installed a gate at the main entrance to the neighborhoods that Israeli soldiers operate from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. "Israeli soldiers close the gate whenever they please, punishing 50 Palestinian families who live in the area." 

The activist highlighted that schoolchildren face particularly serious difficulties as a result of the Israeli military checkpoints when they commute to school every day.

Resident of the Salayma neighborhood Wael al-Fakhouri told Ma’an that the residents have been suffering from closures and attempts to “Judaize” the neighborhood for years. "We feel we are in a big prison, isolated from life. We don't possess any of the elements necessary to enable us to remain firm." 

“It seems everyone has forgotten about the Salayma and Gheith neighborhoods," he said, in a reference to negligence by the Palestinian Authority. "The Israeli occupation is seeking to expel us from the Ibrahimi mosque area as part of their efforts to kill the Palestinian identity here." 

Al-Fakhouri pointed out that the neighborhoods are not even serviced by an ambulance, and Palestinian ambulances stationed elsewhere take too long to arrive to treat locals. “School children arrive late to their schools, while human rights organizations are denied entry to the area," he added.

Mistreatment of Palestinians in the Hebron area has been common since the city was divided in the 1990s after a US-born settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians inside the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The majority of the city was placed under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, while the Old City and surrounding areas were placed under Israeli military control in a sector known as H2.

The area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces. Hebron residents frequently report attacks and harassment by the settlers carried out in the presence of the forces.
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