An Israeli charity has published a damning report on human rights violations in the Israeli-controlled sector of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
B’Tselem, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) said the violations have forced 43% of Palestinians inhabitants to flee their homes.
Among the reasons which led to the departure of the families, B’Tselem blames “violence by the settlers and the lack of law enforcement”.
“According to our investigation, 73 of the 169 families living in these streets have left, while some 2,000 shops and businesses in Casbah (Old city) have closed.”
The so-called H-2 area encircles an enclave of 600 Jewish settlers that is situated in the heart of the city.
“The on-going abuse of Hebron’s Palestinian population results from the settlers’ presence in the city,” the report said.
There are about 1200 Israeli soldiers that guard the Jewish enclave.
“IDF soldiers and border police commit acts of violence against Palestinian residents in the city.”
Very long curfews are imposed on Palestinians living on some of the main streets in central H-2 and “do not allow Palestinians in Hebron to move about freely in the city, to study, to earn a living, and to meet their everyday needs.”
“Three schools in which 1835 pupils studied were taken over by the Israeli Defence Forces (Israeli army) and closed.”
“IDF soldiers and border police commit acts of violence against Palestinian residents in the city,” the report also said.
In response to the B’Tselem report, the Israeli army issued a long statement saying the NGO ignored violence by Palestinians against Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers.
“Hebron is the only Palestinian city in which Israeli and Palestinian residents live side by side, … the city poses a complex security challenge,” the army said.
Israel evacuated 80 percent of the city in 1997, following an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, but has continued to occupy a smaller area, where some 600 Jewish settlers live.
About 120,000 Palestinians currently live outside the Jewish settlement.