Today in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, the Israeli army went from house to house and forcibly entered every Palestinian home in the neighbourhood, according to a report from international human rights workers in the area.
In a press release from the International Solidarity Movement, the group stated, "It is likely that this was in response to pressure from Israeli settlers living illegally in the area, as they were organising a ‘tour of Hebron’ for today, according to the website of the Hebron settlers." All checkpoints in the area remain closed.
According to the group’s report, at 2:45 in the afternoon today two Human Rights Workers (HRWs) were sitting in Shuhada street when they heard gunfire coming from the direction of the Old City. Right away, the HRWs said, there was a big increase in Israeli army activity in the area. Israeli Jeeps rushed back and forth in the street, as well as Israeli ambulances. (Note: Palestinians are not allowed to drive vehicles in the Israeli controlled part of the city in which Tel Rumeida lies – known as "H2"). The Israeli checkpoints that surround H2 were closed almost immediately.
The HRWs stated in their report that they then walked up the Tel Rumeida street hill to their apartment. When they got there they saw at least 20 soldiers guarding the Tel Rumeida settlement. Ten of the soldiers ran down the hill to the Palestinian apartment building opposite the HRW’s apartment, banged on the door and entered the house to search it. This was the beginning of two hours during which Israeli soldiers went from house to house in the neighbourhood, subjecting the Palestinian families to forced searches of their property. From what the HRWs could see themselves, and from what other eyewitnesses told them, the soldiers entered every Palestinian house in the neighbourhood. In a least one house they stayed for 30 minutes.
During all this time, said the HRWs, Israeli settlers were freely roaming around the streets of the Palestinian neighbourhood. As is common, some were armed openly with fully-automatic assault rifles. The HRWs pointed out that any Palestinian ever seen carrying a gun in the same manner would be instantly shot by the army.
The Hebron settler’s website is in English and the tours appear to be aimed at American Jews (there is an office in New York for dealing with tour enquiries).
The army also came to the door of the HRW’s apartment and demanded to be allowed entry. They left the HRWs alone after the HRWs demanded a warrant before they would let the soldiers in.
Tel Rumeida neighborhood is an area that has seen increased violence against both Palestinians an international human rights workers over the past year, mainly carried out by Israeli settlers who are attempting to take over the Palestinian neighborhood, but also by Israeli soldiers who have refused to stop Israeli settler violence, and have carried out a number of acts of violence themselves.