Israeli settlers, on Thursday, attacked a number of Palestinian homes in the center of Hebron, throwing stones and verbally abusing residents, according to a local activist with Israeli rights group B’Tselem.Raed Abu Rmeila said settlers attacked the homes of Fawaz Qafisha, Shams al-Zatari, and Hussein al-Zatari on al-Sahla Street, near the flashpoint Ibrahimi Mosque in the Old City of the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron.
Rmeila said settlers, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, broke several doors in the area and threw rocks at the homes, while screaming insults at the families. The settlers were reportedly positioned on rooftops as well as the main street.
The activist added, according to Ma’an, that Israeli forces responded by firing tear gas at Palestinian homes, causing several residents to suffer severe tear gas inhalation.
An Israeli army spokesperson said that ‘(Israeli) forces received reports of clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in Hebron, and security forces called for both sides to halt and used riot dispersal means in order to prevent a further escalation of violence.’
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.
Since November, the residential area of the Old City off Al-Shuhada street, as well as the Tel Rumeida area, has been designated a closed military zone by the Israeli army following a number of violent encounters in the area.
The order was renewed earlier this month, banning all entry to the areas aside from its Palestinian residents and Israeli settlers.
Palestinian residents were forced to register in order to gain access to their homes and have reported higher-than-average difficulty travelling through the nearly 20 checkpoints that stand across the Old City.
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