60 international observers decided on Wednesday to leave the compound of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) after dozens of Palestinian residents attacked their compound and hurled stones at it while protesting against the Danish cartoon which was seen as insulting to Islam’s prophet Mohammad.
Dozens of protestors hurled stones and bottles at the TIPH office and tried to set it on fire, others managed to force themselves inside; the observes, who are unarmed, waved their clubs in an attempt to drive the protestors out of the building.
The Palestinian police rushed to the TIPH office and pushed back the crowd after some of the protestors smashed most of the windows in the mission’s three-story office building, and damaged three TIPH cars.
The policemen fired rounds of live ammunition in the air in an attempt to control the protesters.
TIPH’s spokesperson, Gunhild Forselv, said that eleven Danish members left Hebron more than a week ago, "the remaining 60 foreign staff members who were in the building decided to leave for their own safety", Forselv reported.
A total of 160 TIPH members were present in Hebron. They are from Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Turkey.
"We will return to Hebron, we had to leave as a result of the damage to the construction", Forselv added.
The foreign TIPH members hugged and kissed the Palestinian staffers before they left the building.
One of the observers said that he feels safe in Hebron, and that the missions’ presence is necessary, "but we had to leave in light of the current situation, I do not know when we will be able to return".
TIPH was deployed in Hebron in 1994 after Baruch Goldstein, a U.S.-born Israeli extremist settler, massacred 29 Palestinians at the Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.
TIPH’s mandate had the task to observe and report on tensions between Palestinians extremist settler groups who repeatedly attack the Palestinians residents, their homes and properties.