A few impressions from my visit in Hebron (Al-Khalil). With about 160.000 inhabitants the largest Palestinian city.
What makes Hebron different from other Palestinian cities is the presence of settlements in the city itself. In addition to two settlements surrounding it, five settlements have been build within Hebron. Thus the city is divided into two areas: H1 – 80%, full Palestinian controll and H2 – 20%, full Israeli controll.
In H2, wich includesparts of the old city and the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque (Tomb of the Patriarchs), live about 30.000 Paletinians and 800 settlers, mostly from the US and France, highly protected by Israeli military (estimated presence of about 4.000 soldiers).
Palestinians are not allowed to use Shuhada street, the main thoroughfare of Hebron. Some of the houses are still inhabited by the original Palestinian residents. Now they have to use their back entrances or walk over the roofs of nearby houses to access and exit their homes.
As a result of these restrictions, about half the shops in H2 have gone out of business since 1994. In various places in the old city settlers occupy the upper floors of houses and throw many types of rubbish on the market streets below so that the people had to build fences covering the streets.
The city sees regular clashes on Saturdays when Palestinians demonstrate for the reopening of Shuhada Street (precise: some Palestinians with big groups of international radicals looking for confrontations) and later on Israeli settlers guide sightseeing tours through the city, heavily protected by the military.
CPT, the Christian Peacemaker Teams, facilitate a long term presence in Hebron, monitoring human rights violations, conductin nonviolent trainings and joining with Palestinians and Israeli peace groups to develop action campaigns that expose the face of the Occupation.
You can also find recent pictures from last weeks riots in Hebron on the EAPPI homepage.