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With world's eyes on Gaza, fears mount of Hebron expulsions

With world's eyes on Gaza, fears mount of Hebron Old City expulsions
2 min read
26 October, 2023
As the West Bank sees a wave of arrests, residents of Hebron's Old City warn that Israel is using the world's focus on Gaza to accelerate plans to expel residents.
Parts of Hebron's Old City have been designated "closed zones" by Israel's military since the Hamas attack on 7 October [Getty]

Over 60 Palestinians were arrested across the occupied West Bank on Wednesday night, including Palestinian Legislative Council member Samira Al-Halaiqa and vocal writer and journalist Lama Khater - both from Hebron.

It coincides with a wave of arrests in the occupied territory, with Palestinian officials saying Israel has detained over 1,400 people across the West Bank since 7 October.

Activists and residents in Hebron fear that Israel is taking advantage of the world's focus on Gaza to push through pre-existing plans to expel residents from the Old City and connect the city with nearby illegal settlements such as Kiryat Arba.

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Hisham Al-Sharbati, a member of the Hebron Defense Committee told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister edition: "The occupation has transitioned from a policy of collective punishment to a policy of gradual collective displacement of Hebron's Old City residents, taking advantage of the world's preoccupation with events in Gaza."

The Old City has been placed under strict curfew by Israel since 7 October with residents only allowed to leave their homes in one-hour windows every 48 hours, according to human rights lawyer and activist Issa Amro, founder of 'Youth Against Settlements'.

They will be forced to leave their homes if they are absent for longer than an hour, he said.

Residents are forbidden from standing on their balconies, or sitting in their courtyards, while settlers have carried out patrols dressed in military-style clothing to terrorise isolated residents.

Amro was evicted from his home in Hebron's Tel Rumeida neighborhood on 20 October. He has secured the door and windows using bricks and metal cables but is worried the army will seize his home.

Around 5,000 Palestinians live in Hebron Old City in areas currently designated "closed zones" by the Israeli military. Access to the Ibrahimi Mosque has also been heavily restricted.

Around 600 Israeli settlers, most of them armed and considered among the most extreme in the occupied West Bank, reside in four settlements built inside Hebron city, while around 7,000 settlers live in Kiryat Arba.

This article is based on an article that appeared in our Arabic edition by Malik Nabil on 23 October 2023, with additional reporting. To read the original article click here.