Israel continues siege on Palestinians in Hebron

Hebron remains on lockdown as Israeli forces comb the area for assailants connected to an alleged shooting attack.

Security operation at West Bank city of Hebron
The entire Hebron area has been closed off as Israeli troops conduct house-to-house searches for assailants [EPA]

Israeli forces have shot and injured two Palestinians in the village of Dura amid a continued army blockade on the Hebron area of the southern occupied West Bank. 

Israel blockades Hebron after settler killings

“All of the villages south of Hebron have been closed off,” Issa Amro, director of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements activist group, told Al Jazeera by telephone on Saturday night. 

“We’ve been under siege for two days now.”

Amro said all entrances to Hebron – the most populous Palestinian city in the West Bank – had been closed except for one, which leads to Road 60, a major north-south highway.

“[Soldiers] have placed a checkpoint at the entrance. They are stopping every car,” he said.

The entrances of several nearby villages were closed off by the Israeli army as extensive searches of the area continued. 

The crackdown comes following two deadly days, during which two Palestinians and two Israelis were killed.

“Last night they were doing house-to-house searches in al-Thahiriyah, al-Fawwar camp, al-Samu, Dura and Hebron city,” Amro added. “Today in Hebron there were clashes early in the morning, around 4 or 5 am.”

Israeli forces locked down the Hebron area on Friday after an Israeli family from the Otniel settlement in Hebron was allegedly targeted by unknown gunmen, killing one man and injuring three others.

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As of Saturday night, Israeli troops were still combing the area in search of suspects.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, an Israeli army spokesperson said the shootings in Dura took place “during routine [army] activity in the area” and that troops were “still searching for the assailants” connected to Friday’s shooting attack. 

The spokesperson said that more than a hundred Palestinians “were rioting” in Dura when Israeli forces first responded with warning shots and riot dispersal means, including rubber-coated steel bullets. 

Amro, the activist, said the two were shot with live ammunition as they tried to prevent Israeli army jeeps from entering the village.

Settlement threats

More than 530,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements – considered illegal under international law – across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. 

After a Palestinian teen killed a 13-year-old Israeli girl in the Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron on Thursday night, several Israeli politicians pledged to build more settlements across the occupied Palestinian territory. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday approved the construction of 42 new housing units in Kiyrat Arba.

On the outskirts of the West Bank’s largest city, the settlement is home to a thousands of Israeli settlers who live under heavy army guard. 

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Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a member of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, said Israel would “build in Sarona and Kiryat Arba, in Jaffa and Jerusalem, in Itamar and Beersheba,” referring to areas in the West Bank and present-day Israel.

Yehuda Glick, a far-right Israeli politician, called for Israel to annex the West Bank and Jewish-Israelis to increase their excursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site for Muslims.

Early Saturday morning, Israeli forces bombed four sites across the besieged Gaza Strip after Palestinian fighters fired a rocket into the southern Israeli city of Sderot. No casualties were reported. 

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Source: Al Jazeera